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Feeling Disconnected: Exploring the Relationship Between Different Forms of Social Capital and Civic Engagement in Japan

  • Carola Hommerich
Original Paper

Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of social connectedness in motivating citizens to take an active interest in society and to engage in communal activities. Japan is used as an example of a society which has been diagnosed with a weakening of social bonds, as well as with an increase in social inequality and precarity in recent years. Structural equation modeling was applied to data of a nationwide survey from 2009, to test the assumption that feelings of disconnectedness from society exert a negative effect on civic engagement that needs to be differentiated from effects of general social trust. Results support this hypothesis and further indicate that it is not socioeconomic precarity per se that lowers chances for civic engagement, but its negative impact on the subjective evaluation of both the quality of social networks and one’s belonging to and value for society. As precarity, however, enforces the negative effects of low social capital, this implies that specially the socially disadvantaged are less likely to participate.

Keywords

Social capital Civic engagement Precarity Social trust Disconnectedness Japan 

Résumé

Cet article analyse le rôle des liens sociaux pour motiver les citoyens à prendre une part active dans la société et à participer à des activités communes. Le Japon y est cité comme exemple d’une société dans laquelle ont été identifié un affaiblissement des liens sociaux, ainsi qu’une augmentation de l’inégalité sociale et de la précarité au cours des dernières années. La modélisation par équations structurelles a été appliquée aux données d’une enquête nationale de 2009 afin de tester l’hypothèse selon laquelle le sentiment de déconnexion de la société exerce un effet négatif sur l’engagement civique qui doit être différencié des effets de la confiance sociale générale. Les résultats confirment cette hypothèse et, de plus, indiquent que ce n’est pas la précarité socioéconomique en soi qui réduit les chances de l’engagement civique, mais ses effets négatifs sur l’évaluation subjective de la qualité des réseaux sociaux, de l’appartenance d’une personne à la société et de la valeur que celle-ci représente pour la société. Toutefois, la précarité appliquant les effets négatifs de la faiblesse du capital social, cela signifie que ce sont surtout les personnes socialement défavorisées qui sont moins susceptibles d’y participer.

Zusammenfassung

Dieser Beitrag untersucht die Rolle der sozialen Verbundenheit bei der Motivation von Bürgern, ein aktives Interesse an der Gesellschaft zu zeigen und sich an Gemeindeaktivitäten zu beteiligen. Japan wird als Beispiel für eine Gesellschaft angeführt, in der in den vergangenen Jahren soziale Verbindungen schwächer geworden und soziale Ungleichheit und Prekarität angestiegen sind. Ein Strukturgleichungsmodell wurde auf Daten einer 2009 durchgeführten landesweiten Befragung angewandt, um die Annahme zu prüfen, dass das Gefühl einer fehlenden Verbindung zur Gesellschaft negative Auswirkungen auf bürgerschaftliches Engagement hat, die von den Effekten generalisierten Sozialvertrauens zu unterscheiden sind. Die Ergebnisse unterstützen diese Hypothese und weisen weiter darauf hin, dass es nicht die sozioöknomische Prekarität an sich ist, die die Bereitschaft zu bürgerschaftlichem Engagement mindert, sondern ihre negative Auswirkung auf die subjektive Bewertung der Qualität der sozialen Netzwerke und des individuellen Zugehörigkeitsgefühls und Wertes innerhalb der Gesellschaft. Da die Prekarität jedoch die negativen Effekte geringen Sozialkapitals verstärkt, wird dadurch impliziert, dass insbesondere sozial benachteiligte Personen weniger zur Partizipation neigen.

Resumen

El presente documento analiza el papel de la conectividad social en la motivación de los ciudadanos para interesarse de manera activa en la sociedad y comprometerse en actividades comunales. Japón se utiliza como ejemplo de sociedad a la que se le ha diagnosticado un debilitamiento de los lazos sociales, así como también un aumento de la desigualdad social y de la precariedad en los últimos años. Se aplicó la modelización de ecuaciones estructurales a los datos de una encuesta realizada a nivel nacional en 2009, para poner a prueba el supuesto de que los sentimientos de desconectividad de la sociedad ejercen un efecto negativo sobre el compromiso cívico que es necesario ser diferenciado de los efectos de la confianza social general. Los resultados apoyan esta hipótesis e indican además que no es la precariedad socioeconómica per se la que disminuye las posibilidades de compromiso cívico, sino su impacto negativo sobre la evaluación subjetiva tanto de la calidad de las redes sociales como de la pertenencia a las mismas y el valor para la sociedad. Sin embargo, dado que la precariedad ejecuta los efectos negativos del capital social bajo, esto implica que son especialmente los socialmente desfavorecidos los que tienen menos probabilidades de participar.

本文分析了社会联系在鼓励公民积极参与社会和参加社区活动等方面的作用,以日本社会为例,日本的 社会联结减弱,最近几年 社会不平等和不安全感加剧。假设脱离社会的感觉会对公民参与产生负面影响,在从2009年开始的全国调查的数据中,采用了结构方程模型来验证这一假设,脱离社会的感觉对公民参与的负面影响 需要和总体社会信任对公民参与的影响进行区分。研究结果证实脱离社会的感觉会对公民参与产生负面影响,而且还进一步说明, 并非是由于社会经济不稳定本身 而是由于社会经济不稳定对社会联系网的质量的主观评价 以及 个人社会归属感和社会价值感的负面影响削弱了公民参与的积极性。 但是,由于缺乏安全感对社会中掌握资本较少的群体存在负面影响,因此, 社会劣势的团体的参与可能尤其小。

本研究では、共同活動に従事して、社会に対する積極的な関心を持つ市民を動機付ける社会的なつながりの役割を分析する。社会的不平等の増加と近年の生活不安、社会的な結束の弱体化を有する例として日本の社会例を用いる。構造方程式モデリングでは、社会的信頼の影響から区別する必要がある市民の関与に悪影響を及ぼすという否定的な仮定を社会からの立感として検証するため、2009年の全国調査データを適用した。結果は仮説を証明しており、市民の関与のチャンスを下げる社会経済的な生活不安ではなく、社会的なネットワークの質と社会的価値の所属性に対する主観評価へのマイナスの影響を与えることがわかった。しかし低社会資本のマイナスの効果を適用すると、参加を躊躇する者は特に社会的に不利益を被ることがわかった。

تحلل هذه المقالة دور الترابط الإجتماعي في تحفيز المواطنين على الإهتمام الفعال بالمجتمع والإنخراط في الأنشطة المجتمعية. تم إستخدام اليابان كمثال على المجتمع الذي تم تشخيصه بضعف الروابط الإجتماعية، كذلك مع زيادة في عدم المساواة الإجتماعية وعدم الإستقرار في السنوات الأخيرة. تم تطبيق نماذج المعادلة الهيكلية لبيانات من إستطلاع رأي وطني إبتداءا˝ من عام 2009، لإختبار فرضية أن مشاعر الإنقطاع عن المجتمع تمارس تأثير سلبي على المشاركة المدنية التي تحتاج إلى أن يتم تمييزها من آثار الثقة الإجتماعية العامة. النتائج تدعم هذه الفرضية وكذلك الإشارة إلى أنه ليس عدم الإستقرارالإجتماعي والإقتصادي في حد ذاته يخفض فرص المشاركة المدنية، ولكن تأثيره السلبي على التقييم الموضوعي لكل من نوعية الشبكات الإجتماعية و تبعية الشخص وقيمة المجتمع. كعدم الإستقرار، مع ذلك، يفرض الآثار السلبية لإنخفاض رأس المال الإجتماعي، هذا يعني أن خصوصا˝ المحرومين إجتماعيا˝ هم أقل إحتمالا˝ للمشاركة.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ)Tokyo Japan

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