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Finding Happiness in Japan’s Invisible Civil Society

Abstract

Although happy New Left radical may seem like an oxymoron, many veterans of the protest cycle of the late 1960s-early 1970s in Japan seem to find happiness through political participation in an alternative invisible civil society. Guided by actor-network theory and utilizing long-term participant observation data, the study finds that participants bring distinctive cultural capital to their political activism and use their specialized skills to organize events and produce material objects that explain and promote their ideas. They derive personal enjoyment and a sense of purpose from the creative activities of “making and doing” that characterize their autonomous participation in the invisible civil society, and simultaneously build networks rich in social capital. Their activities meet the criteria for experiencing well-being or happiness both through strong network relations (social capital theory), and engaging in activities with autonomous motivation (self-determination theory).

Résumé

Bien qu’une heureuse nouvelle gauche radicale puisse sembler une contradiction en soi, beaucoup d’anciens du cycle de protestations de la fin des années 1960 et du début des années 1970 au Japon semblent trouver le bonheur à travers leur participation politique dans une société civile invisible alternative. Inspirée par la théorie de l’acteur-réseau et utilisant les données d’observation sur le long terme des participants, l’étude révèle que les participants apportent un capital culturel distinct à leur activisme politique et utilisent leurs compétences spécialisées pour organiser des évènements et produire des objets matériels expliquant et promouvant leurs idées. Ils tirent leur plaisir personnel et leur motivation d’activités créatives impliquant « la fabrication et l’action » qui caractérisent leur participation autonome dans la société civile invisible, et qui, en même temps, construisent des réseaux qui présentent un capital social riche. Leurs activités répondent aux critères de bien-être ou de bonheur à la fois par des relations de réseau solides (théorie du capital social) et des activités impliquant une motivation autonome (théorie de l’autodétermination).

Zusammenfassung

Ein glücklicher Radikaler der Neuen Linken scheint ein Widerspuch in sich zu sein; doch hat es den Anschein, dass viele Veteranen des Protestzyklus Ende der sechziger und Anfang der siebziger Jahre in Japan durch eine politische Mitwirkung in einer alternativen unsichtbaren Bürgergesellschaft ihr Glück finden. In Anlehnung an die Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie und anhand von langfristigen Daten aus teilnehmenden Beobachtungen kommt die Studie zu dem Ergebnis, dass die Teilnehmer ein unverkennbares kulturelles Kapital in ihren politischen Aktivismus einbringen und ihre besonderen Fähigkeiten nutzen, um Veranstaltungen zu organisieren und materielle Objekte zu produzieren, die ihre Vorstellungen erklären und probagieren. Sie finden persönliche Freude und ein Gefühl der Sinnhaftigkeit im kreativen „Machen und Tun“, das ihre autonome Partizipation in der unsichtbaren Bürgergesellschaft ausmacht, und bauen zugleich Netzwerke mit hohem sozialen Kapital auf. Ihre Aktivitäten erfüllen die Kriterien für Wohlbefinden und Glücksgefühl durch stabile Netzwerkbeziehungen (Theorie des sozialen Kapitals) und durch Aktivitäten mit autonomer Motivation (Selbstbestimmungstheorie).

Resumen

Aunque los felices radicales de la Nueva Izquierda puedan parecer como un contrasentido, muchos veteranos del ciclo de protesta de finales de los años 1960 y principios de los 1970 en Japón parecen encontrar la felicidad mediante la participación política en una sociedad civil alternativa invisible. Guiado por la teoría del actor-red y utilizando datos de observación de participantes de largo plazo, el presente estudio encuentra que los participantes aportan un capital cultural inconfundible a su activismo político y utilizan sus habilidades especializadas para organizar eventos y producir objetos materiales que expliquen y promuevan sus ideas. Derivan disfrute personal y razón de ser de las actividades creativas de “making and doing” que caracterizan su participación autónoma en la invisible sociedad civil, y simultáneamente construyen redes ricas en capital social. Sus actividades satisfacen los criterios de experimentar bienestar o felicidad tanto mediante fuertes relaciones de red (teoría del capital social) como mediante el compromiso en actividades con motivación autónoma (teoría de la autodeterminación).

摘要

虽然“快乐新左派激进分子”(happy New Left radical)这一称呼看起来像一个矛盾修饰法,但是,在日本,二十世纪六十年代晚期至二十世纪七十年代早期的示威抗议圈子里的许多“老兵”似乎通过在另一个隐形的公民社会里参加政治活动而找到了快乐。在行动者网络理论(actor-network theory)的指引下,并利用对参与者长期观察所获的资料,本研究发现:不同的参与者将其各具特色的文化资本引入其政治活动理念中;并利用其专业技能组织活动、制作实物材料,用以解释与倡导其理念。他们的“制作与行动”(making and doing)的创造性活动使得他们自主参与隐形公民社会的行为独具特色,同时构建了富含社会资本的网络。通过该等创造性活动,他们找到了个人快乐以及目标感。他们的活动符合以下标准:通过网络关系(社会资本理论)与自主地(自我决定理论)参加活动,体验快乐或幸福。

要約

幸福なニューレフトの急進主義者は矛盾しているようだが、1960年代後半から1970年代前半における日本の退役軍人による抗議のサイクルであり、不可視の代替の市民社会における政治への参加を通じて幸福を見つけているようである。本研究では、参加者のネットワーク理論を用いて長期の参与観察データを活用することで、参加者は独特の文化資本に政治的活動を持ち込み、専門スキルを用いて活動を組織して、自らの考えを説明して促進する内容の構築を目的とする。「創造して実践すること」の創造的活動という目的の判断力と個人的な楽しみを得て、不可視の市民社会における自律的な参加を特徴付ける。同時に社会資本において豊富なネットワークを構築する。活動は強力なネットワーク関係(社会資本理論)を通じて福祉と幸福を経験して、自律的動機づけ(自決理論)の活動に関与する基準を満たしている。

ملخص

على الرغم من أن اليسار الراديكالي الجديد السعيد قد يبدو متناقض، العديد من المحاربين القدامى من دورة إحتجاج على أواخر1960 –أوائل 1970في اليابان يبدو إنهم عثروا على السعادة من خلال المشاركة السياسية في المجتمع المدني الغير مرئي البديل. يسترشدون عن طريق الناشطين – نظرية الشبكة وإستخدام بيانات رصد مشاركة على المدى الطويل، وجدت الدراسة أن المشاركين جلبوا رؤوس أموال ثقافية مميزة لنشاطهم السياسي وإستخدموا مهاراتهم المتخصصة في تنظيم الفعاليات وإنتاج الأجسام المادية التي تشرح وتروج لأفكارهم. إنهم إستمدوا تمتع شخصي، والشعور بالغرض من الأنشطة الإبداعية “الفعل والعمل” التي تميز مشاركتهم المستقلة في المجتمع المدني الغير مرئي، و في نفس الوقت بناء شبكات غنية في رأس المال الإجتماعي. أنشطتهم تستوفي معايير الشعور بالرفاهية أو السعادة سواء من خلال شبكة العلاقات القوية (نظرية رأس المال الإجتماعي)، والمشاركة في الأنشطة مع الدافع الذاتي (نظرية تقرير المصير).

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Acknowledgments

The fieldwork for this article was facilitated by an appointment as a visiting professor at the Institute of Social Research, University of Tokyo, which had also been my affiliation during the earlier periods of fieldwork in 1982-83, 1990-91, and 1998-99 that were supported by Fulbright fellowships. My long-term fieldwork has also been supported by small grants from the University of Hawaii for short summer visits to Japan. I am grateful to these institutions and the individuals within them who have made my research possible. I also thank Mami Nakamura for her assistance in identifying demonstrating groups from photos, and Tim Tiefenbach, Barbara Holthus, and Florian Coulmas for inviting me to participate in the International Symposium on Civil Society, Political Participation and Happiness at Bad Homburg, Germany in May 2013.

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Steinhoff, P.G. Finding Happiness in Japan’s Invisible Civil Society. Voluntas 26, 98–120 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-014-9534-2

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Keywords

  • Japan
  • Civil society
  • Social movements
  • Happiness
  • New Left