Fachgruppensitzung Soziologie und Sozialanthropologie 2017

Nach einer kurzen Begrüßung durch die Fachgruppenleiter und einer kurzen Vorstellungsrunde, wurden in diesem Jahr vier Projekte vorgestellt. Alle vier Vortragenden berichteten von eigener empirischer Forschung und zeigten neue, interessante Ergebnisse auf. Die intensive Diskussion über die zum Teil quantitativ, zum Teil ethnografisch/qualitativ angelegten Forschungsprojekte zeigte, dass ein reger Austausch zwischen den beiden methodischen „Lagern“ durchaus fruchtbar sein und konstruktiv zu weiterführenden Forschungsfragen leiten kann.

Zwei von den vier Vortragenden (Hommerich und Klien) präsentierten „Work in Progress“ als Auftakt einer neuen Rubrik der Fachgruppensitzung. Damit soll die Möglichkeit gegeben werden, auch Forschung zu präsentieren, die noch nicht abgeschlossen ist und somit besonders von Kommentaren und Kritik der Zuhörer profitieren kann. Das Treffen fand auf Englisch statt, um auch Teilnehmer der englischsprachigen Jahrestagung, die der deutschen Sprache nicht mächtig waren, die Gelegenheit zu geben, an der Sitzung teilzunehmen. Entsprechend wird hier über die einzelnen Vorträge in englischer Sprache berichtet.

Steve Entrich (University of Potsdam) presented his research on “Consequences of Educational Upgrading in Modern Societies on the Reproduction of Social Inequalities: Increasing Supplementary Education Investments in Japan?” While, generally, families increasingly invest in supplementary education, such as shadow education or study abroad, his analysis based on the 2013 Benesse Gakkōgaikyōikukatsudō ni kansuru Chōsa (for 15.000 students aged 3 to 18) shows that especially students from well-off family backgrounds are most likely to study abroad and go to juku in Japan. He interprets this trend as strategy of upper class families to achieve competitive status advantages, and, thus, contributing to social inequalities.

Next, Signy Spletzer (Vienna University) presented her case study of a revitalization initiative in the Aso region under the title “Here to stay: An analysis of the revitalization initiative Zen of the Aso region and its impact on the local community”. The so-called Zen initiative (taken from the word shizen meaning “nature”) was inaugurated by the local government of Aso City in the prefecture of Kumamoto in 2013 was to boost the number of tourists that had declined due to a string of natural disasters in recent years. It was set to work on two levels, it has set itself the goal of creating a positive impact on tourism as well as on the local communities. However, despite first reactions towards the top-down approach of this initiative appeared to be positive, rigid structures, miscommunication and internal problems have seemed to bring this revitalisation project to its limits. What is more, this seems not to be a rare case, with similar initiatives (with similar problems) in other regions of Japan.

Carola Hommerich (Hokkaido University) started off the round of presentations on “work in progress”, by outlining her recent research on young Japanese’s happiness (“Happiness is…: A Method-Mix Approach to Japan’s “Happy Youth”). Applying a method-mix approach she analyses, how the factors that contribute to subjective well-being might differ across age groups. The preliminary findings imply that what is individually evaluated as “overall happiness” needs to be thought of as complex interplay of different topicalities that are weighted and judged against each other in course of the evaluation. In the specific case of the Japanese youth, their distinctively different idea of happiness points to an impact of their generational location – growing up in a period of economic stagnation – which distinguishes them from previous generations, who were used to continuous economic growth and social upgrading.

Susanne Klien (Hokkaido University) introduced a recent research project entitled “Transnational lifestyle mobility of Japanese to Europe and the quest for well-being outside Japan”. Klien discussed narratives of Japanese individuals between 25 and 50 who have relocated to Europe for non-economic reasons. People on the move tend to have a history of ‘broken bodies’ and/or overwork. Aspiring to a greater life quality that allows them to focus more on activities that are personally fulfilling for them, lifestyle migrants often find themselves in precarious and liminal positions as they are exposed to considerable pressure to turn their lives overseas into a success.

Prof. Dr. Susanne Klien (Hokkaido Universität)
Prof. Dr. Carola Hommerich (Hokkaido Universität)