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Everyday Justice

Everyday Justice: Responsibility and the Individual in Japan and the United States

V. Lee Hamilton
Joseph Sanders
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Everyday Justice
    Book Description:

    It is a fundamental human impulse to seek restitution or retribution when a wrong is done, yet individuals and societies assess responsibility and allocate punishment for wrongdoing in different ways. This book investigates how average citizens in the United States and Japan think about and judge various kinds of wrongdoing, how they determine who is responsible when things go wrong, and how they prefer to punish offenders.

    Drawing on the results of surveys they conducted in Detroit, Michigan, and Yokohama and Kanazawa, Japan, the authors compare both individual and cultural reactions to wrongdoing. They find that decisions about justice are influenced by whether or not there seems to be a social relationship between the offender and victim: the American tendency is to see actors in isolation while the Japanese tendency is to see them in relation to others. The Japanese, who emphasize the importance of role obligations and social ties, mete out punishment with the goal of restoring the offender to the social network. Americans, who acknowledge fewer "ties that bind" and have firmer convictions that evil resides in individuals, punish wrongdoers by isolating them from the community. The authors explore the implications of "justice among friends" versus "justice towards strangers" as approaches to the righting of wrongs in modern society. Their findings will be of interest to students of social psychology, the sociology of law, and Japanese studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16074-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. PART ONE Structure and Culture

    • 1 The Problem of Responsibility
      (pp. 3-20)

      People the world over seek justice when they or their loved ones have been wronged or harmed. To obtain justice we have to establish who is responsible for what happened, and then we want punishment for the offender, restitution for the injured, or both. But cultures and individuals differ in the grounds for seeking justice—the reasons we think someone else is responsible for what has gone wrong.

      Empirically, this is a book about responsibility and sanctions, about what makes wrongdoing wrong and what should be done about it. Images of the offender—theresponsible actor—vary dramatically across and...

    • 2 Social Structure and Legal Structure: A Comparative View
      (pp. 21-47)

      Judgments of responsibility and conceptions of the wrongdoer grow out of the ways people behave toward each other. Therefore they depend on the nature of relationships in a society. At the macrolevel, the distribution of types of relationship differs systematically between Japan and the United States. In our terms, Japanese relationships seem both more highly solidary and more hierarchical than those of Americans. Thecombinationof hierarchy and solidarity characterizes much of Japanese society.

      Why compare the United States and Japan? The United States and Japan are similar in key respects. They share a high level of economic development. Both...

    • 3 Culture and the Socialization Process
      (pp. 48-72)

      What makes a person responsible for harm done, for wrong committed? To answer this question we must consider how a culture envisions its actors, including its bad actors. The preceding chapter focused on social structural and legal roots of the image of the responsible actor. This chapter explores cultural roots of variation. We first examine the notion of the individual social actor and its alternative, what we term a contextual actor, as a framework for understanding differences in American and Japanese conceptions of responsibility and of the responsible actor.

      The general perspective on the social actor adopted here is the...

  7. PART TWO Responsibility and Sanction

    • 4 Responsibility: A Research Agenda
      (pp. 75-88)

      In this chapter we lay out the variables in our empirical studies of responsibility. Our predictions about these variables take into account the microlevel of differences between roles within a society as well as the macrolevel of differences between American and Japanese societies. The challenge is to build and test a coherent theory about what makes people responsible when things go wrong and what should then be done about it: a theory of responsibility and sanction.

      Having said that responsibility is a matter of action and obligation, roles and deeds, there remains a broad range of issues one might examine...

    • 5 Methods: Experiments in Surveys
      (pp. 89-109)

      The preceding chapters suggestwhywe chose to carry out research in the United States and Japan on issues of responsibility and punishment. This chapter addresseshowwe did so: the methodology of the research project. We have attempted to make the discussion accessible to readers who lack statistical backgrounds. Discussions of the findings about responsibility and punishment in chapters 6 and 7 require some familiarity with the survey sites and the content of each survey; these are reviewed below. Readers who wish to move on to the findings can return here for information about particular survey questions or statistical...

    • 6 Responsibility: The Evidence
      (pp. 110-134)

      In chapter 4 we outlined a series of predictions about how judgments about responsibility are affected at the microlevel of everyday incidents by the deeds people perform, the roles they occupy, and the interrelationships of roles and deeds. We further suggested ways in which the differing social structures and cultures of Japan and the United States might lead to macrolevel differences between nations in the allocation of responsibility. Chapter 5 provided technical details about how we tested these predictions. In this chapter we present the results of these tests.

      Unless stated otherwise, all results discussed below were statistically significant at...

    • 7 Punishment
      (pp. 135-156)

      In the last chapter we focused on the attribution of responsibility. We turn now to the question of sanctions.¹ Sanctions routinely presuppose responsibility (Hart & Honoré, 1959), and many of the hypotheses we have raised with respect to responsibility also apply to sanctioning. As the epigraph indicates, wrongdoing that may be the occasion for punishment has community attributes as well as individual attributes. For example, harm may be perpetrated against a stranger or an acquaintance (a community attribute) as well as perpetrated unintentionally or intentionally (an individual attribute). Correspondingly, sanctions for wrongdoing have consequences for communities as well as for individuals....

    • 8 Is Crime Special? Offenses against Strangers
      (pp. 157-176)

      Americans who travel to Japan are often puzzled, envious, or simply relieved by the remarkable safety of Japanese cities. Consider the following incident that happened to one of us:

      It is late at night on a typical weekend in Roppongi, a ʺyuppieʺ area of Tokyo with a lot of night life. An American female is returning from a party. Around her neck is strung an expensive new camera. The woman turns into an alley to take a shortcut to her hotel. Halfway down the alley, a scruffy-looking Japanese male emerges from the shadows and approaches her. He says, pointing at...

  8. PART THREE Law and Society

    • 9 Empirical Conclusions
      (pp. 179-185)

      What does this research mean? The question can be answered at two very different levels. The straightforward, scientific conclusions about our findings are summarized in this chapter. In the final two chapters we discuss what these findings imply about law, culture, and morality in the United States and Japan.

      Chapters 6, 7, and 8 examined the process of attributing responsibility and assigning sanctions in two Japanese cities, Yokohama and Kanazawa, and one American city, Detroit. Throughout, the focus was upon the relative importance of information about the individual (deed information) versus information about the situation (role information) in the attribution...

    • 10 Legal Structure, Legal Culture, and Convergence
      (pp. 186-202)

      This chapter concerns the way legal structure and legal culture interact to create and maintain a legal system. We review a long-running debate about the relative importance of cultural and structural explanations for some observed differences between Japanese and American legal systems; we then discuss how our findings inform this controversy. The chapter concludes with some thoughts as to whether, as some have argued, Japanese and American legal systems—indeed, all capitalist legal systems—tend to converge toward a single model. We begin by telling a story that arises from the facts of a lawsuit.

      Julia Martinez was born and...

    • 11 The Problem of Justice
      (pp. 203-218)

      Sometimes we do justice to strangers; other times we make justice with friends. This investigation of responsibility and punishment has revealed two images of the responsible actor and hence two faces of everyday justice. In one image, the offender is conceptualized as a stranger, or at best an acquaintance, separate from and equal to the victim. This generates a relatively formal and impersonal justice, with lawyers as its midwives, governed by a set of pervasive, abstract rules appropriate for all occasions. Nothing is beyond the reach of the abstract rule of law. The consequence of a determination of responsibility tends...

  9. Appendix A Summary of the Story Versions
    (pp. 219-235)
  10. Appendix B Punishment Questions
    (pp. 236-246)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 247-258)
  12. References
    (pp. 259-280)
  13. Index of Authors Cited
    (pp. 281-285)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 286-290)