Continuity and Change in Japanese Society Essay

CONTINUITY AND CHANGE IN JAPANESE SOCIETY One specific aspect of change in traditional Japanese society came about through an increased acceptance and regard towards the right of girls to be educated. In the past, traditional Japanese culture saw this as a threat, believing that it was a purely western thought which would jeopardise the traditional culture of that society.

This movement not only increased educational opportunities, but was also a means by which gender inequality was reduced in Japanese society as it helped place more concern and regard towards the rights and role of women. Impact of this change: POSITIVE: The increase in education opportunities for Japanese girls ultimately allowed them to question the status quo and strive to make further changes to better their situation. The Meiji reforms saw widespread changes to the education system by making it accessible to all.

This created intense competition for placement in academic schools offering good prospects for entry into a noted university and ultimately enhancing employment opportunities and chances of success, in turn reflecting positively on the ie. NEGATIVE: In traditional society, the ie. had the role of instilling cultural values, whereas in modern Japan, the education system is now charged with that task, teaching junior students the importance of continuity and group identity within a hierarchical context.

POSITIVE: Such increased education opportunities for girls gave them the necessary tools to reinforce the ideal of equality of the sexes, introduced by the post WWII democracy, written in the Japanese constitution in form of voting rights and equal opportunity employment, ultimately leading to a dramatic change in the status of women. Statistics also show that one third of Japanese women are entering institutions of higher education and re-entering the workforce as their children enter school.

NEGATIVE: On the contrary, some within Japanese society consider such changes to be negative, believing that they serve to eradicate traditional Japanese norms and values. Strategies for change: Social change occurs when forces from within or outside society act to modify existing social structures, institutions or established social behaviours. -Constitutional changes resulting from the Meiji reforms gave women the right to vote and saw widespread changes to the education system, making it accessible to all, which helped women gain equal employment opportunities and ultimately led to a dramatic change in status of women. In addition, traditional Japan saw a much different curriculum from present day Japan who attempts to teach not only the fundamental basics of life, values and traditions, but also incorporates a syllabus focused on making students gain an awareness of the global environment, in turn leading to increased levels of social literacy as well as an understanding and acceptance of the inevitable concept of change. The Equal Employment Opportunity Law 1986 made it illegal to discriminate (particularly against women) in employment opportunities, training and education, however gender based discrimination still exists in the workforce with women constituting 8% of upper management positions. Theory of Social change: According to Durkheim’s functionalist theoretical analysis of society, “all parts of society have a function, and change is a result of those functions being disturbed. Under this theory, social systems work to maintain equilibrium through the socialisation of members of the society into the basic values and norms of that society and return to it after external shocks disturb the balance among social institutions. Various formal and informal social control mechanisms such as prisons, schools and even sneering and gossip, exist to segregate non conforming individuals or restore conformity where socialisation is insufficient.

Furthermore, functionalists view the idea of rapid change as unhealthy believing that it upsets balance and instead promote the idea of steady change through cooperation. Adapted to Japan: According to Durkheim’s functionalist theoretical analysis of society, “all parts of society have a function, and change is a result of those functions being disturbed. ” In this instance, the evolutionary movement promoting reforms to the Japanese education system, in a bid to increase equality in Japan, represented a disturbance challenging both traditional and cultural iews, leading to the change in women’s roles, which faced opposition by the some conservative members of society. The Meiji reforms saw widespread changes to the education system by making it accessible to all. This created intense competition for placement in academic schools offering good prospects for entry into a noted university and ultimately enhanced employment opportunities and chances of success, in turn reflecting positively on the ie. In traditional society, the ie. ad the role of instilling cultural values, whereas in modern Japan, the education system is now charged with that task, teaching junior students the importance of continuity and group identity within a hierarchical context. According to the functionalist theory, rapid change is viewed as unhealthy as it can upset the balance of society. The significant changes to the Japanese education system were viewed by some conservative members of society as unhealthy and a threat to the stability and balance of society.

However, the post WWII democracy and constitutional changes, served to gradually emphasise positive aspects of such changes through cooperation, thus reducing resistance to change. Future: Considering the changes evident in the traditional Japanese society, regarding the role of women with particular reference to increased education opportunities, one can predict a possible future whereby continued change in such areas will lead to future bridging of the gap of inequality that exists between the genders in this society.

Furthermore, a probable future for Japan could foresee the continuation of the acceptance of modernization and technological advancement in order to maintain an advanced and competitive society in a global context, whilst also maintaining a strong link to the traditional values and beliefs of that society through the education system, which were previously instilled by the ie.

One can also assume that with increased education opportunities women will have the tools necessary to not only question the status quo, but also challenge it, by seeking to attain the benefits of increasing influence of the factors of globalization, modernization, westernization as well as technological advancement, all of which can help them further such changes in attempt to better the situation of Japanese women.

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