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Political Life in Japan

Political Life in Japan: Democracy in a Reversible World

TAKAKO KISHIMA
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 158
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztgq9
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    Political Life in Japan
    Book Description:

    To understand how change occurs in politics, we should turn from concentrating on intentional political actions to exploring everyday life, especially marginal frames of mind in which people are open to questioning existing ideas and institutions. In so contending, Takako Kishima offers fresh understandings of contemporary Japanese politicians and the Japanese political process, while she also proposes an innovative method of looking at politics in general. Kishima points out that taken-for-granted values and beliefs are revealed as arbitrary when people experience intrusions of the marginal, or "liminal." Social marginals, such as outcastes or so-called misfits, are the most likely people to invoke these intrusions, but more ordinary folk are also subjected to them under special conditions ranging from the seemingly trivial--daydreaming, dancing, or getting drunk--to the more profound--war, natural disaster, or ecstatic ritual. During an intrusion the flow of ordinary time seems to stop, and the utilitarian principles of commonplace existence are invalidated--as described by the chapter on Nakasone, "Shedding Tears: Suspension of Politics." Drawing on insights from phenomenology, symbolic anthropology, and post-structuralism, as well as from political science, Kishima shows that the prevalence of liminal experiences in society prevents the reification of authority, allows the transcendence of formal political differences, and permits political change over time.

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6242-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Chapter One INTRODUCTION: SYMBOLIC DIMENSION OF POLITICAL LIFE
    (pp. 3-25)

    IN RECENT YEARS, serious academic attention has been paid to cultural particularities that previously were often regarded as irrelevant and, thus, generally were ignored by the social sciences. It has been shown abundantly by Foucault (1970, 1979a, 1980), Davis (1975), Ginzburg (1982, 1984), Guha and Spivak (1988), Scott (1989), and others that the culturally and historically situated micro-level studies are important. The activities and behavior of ordinary people in a given culture in a given historical period that are considered to be simply insignificant and apolitical are, in fact, impregnated with meaning and reflect physical conditions being experienced by those...

  7. Chapter Two POLITICAL RITUALS
    (pp. 26-56)

    THE ABSTRACT, theoretical discussions in chapter 1 would be enriched with concrete cases that show how maginal beings and liminal states actually deform the context and help people create an occasion for both activating reflexivity and experiencing whole-human-to-whole-human relationships with others. In this chapter, we will examine ubiquitous occurrences, some obvious and others extremely subtle. In the first section, we deal with the behavior and activities of the Japanese legislators in the Diet, especially those of the members of the Lower House Finance Committee. We will observe closely how the members go through a number of liminal experiences together. Although...

  8. Chapter Three SYMBOLIC INTERLUDES IN POLITICAL LIFE
    (pp. 57-76)

    IN MODERN TIMES comedians have found a new suitable media, television, through which they appeal to an unprecedentedly large audience. Indeed, as McLuhan (1964) so imaginatively argues, television, unlike books, is a great relativizer, a trickster of modern times, which presents to the audience a metaphorically connected (in contrast to metonymically connected, i.e., in a hierarchical, cause-effect relationship) in-the-process reality.

    Commenting on the rise of a new kind of comedians in contemporary Japan, Matsuo (1986) ponders that the more or less orthodox type of comedian who works hard to create funny story lines and actions or to master the art...

  9. Chapter Four ON LIMINAL QUALITIES
    (pp. 77-109)

    IN THE INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER, I referred to a trickster as one of the most vivid and universal embodiments of liminality. In addition to some delightfully colorful ethnographic studies of the trickster in various parts of the world from the time of mythology to the modern era,¹ even a psychological study is tried (Jung 1969). When anthropologists were drawn to the uniquely enchanting nature of marginal beings, the trickster appeared as one of its representative embodiments. Many notable anthropologists, therefore, have written about the trickster.²

    Like any other figure who embodies liminal qualities, tricksters can be found in the interstices, on...

  10. Chapter Five CONCLUSION: ON THE BASIS FOR DEMOCRACY AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
    (pp. 110-122)

    THE CASE STUDIES presented in the preceding chapters on various forms of marginal beings and liminal states—ranging from politicians in whom liminal qualities were embodied, an orgiastic election campaign, and a blood oath ritual to tears, comedians, and play—support the argument developed in chapter 1. I introduced several scholars of different disciplines who have presented analyses of various marginal beings and liminal states to indicate that their function is to relativize, level, and pose questions to anything in nomos, and, in so doing, to activate people’s reflexivity.

    As analyzed in each chapter’s discussion section, the examples of marginal...

  11. REFERENCES CITED
    (pp. 123-140)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 141-142)