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I like his argument and could not agree with him more, but the selection of cases starts to appear unfair in the postwar section. The thesis is the social management through informal channels, but there have been more 'formal channels' like medical insurance and public schools. How does it complicate his argument?
It was very useful to understanding historical stereotypes, but its really badly written, took me ages to read one chapter. Garon is an excellent Japanese historian over the postwar period, but not a talented writer
To be honest, I expected the book to be a bit more Foucauldian. But the concept of Japan's "social management", and its lineage from pre-war to post-war periods -- which means that the common notion of a historical break that is WWII introduces some problems when interpreting present-day social phenomena in Japan-- are indeed interesting.
Garon argues persuasively against the liberal civil society/oppressive state dichotomy of pre-1945 Japan, showing how civil society groups made tactical allegiances with the state that resulted in further regimentation and bureaucratic control over daily life. His examples are varied, including social welfare programs, religious organizations, prostitution, and women's rights movements.
only read assigned chapters. pretty awesome writing and in-depth research. I'm troubled by the amazing similarities between Japanese gov & KMT->CCP in China ... social management seems to be a Confucian legacy ... scary
I read this as part of Sheldon Garon's class on modern Japan. His lectures borrow heavily from this book.