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State of the Field Seminar: Sociology of Japan


Admission requirements



Japan’s sudden rise as a major economic power in the postwar era has been subject to numerous debates about the origins of Japan’s success. Also social developments have attracted a range of discussions about Japan’s presumed cultural uniqueness, in light of the divergence of many patterns of social change from Europe and the North America.

In this seminar, we will critically examine theories of development and social change in application to postwar Japanese society. Rather than focusing on Japan’s difference, we will aim to explore and extend existing theories of social inequality and change based on the Japanese experience. Course themes will include classical sociological theory, modernity and social change, social inequalities, in particular ethnicity, race, class and gender, as well as the mechanics and politics of social research.

Course objectives

The main goal of this seminar is to provide students with a firm grounding in three fields: sociological theory, studies in contemporary Japanese society, and field research methods. We will read and discuss key works in social theory on the topics of social inequality and change in combination with exemplary studies of postwar Japanese society. In addition to extending our understanding of different theoretical approaches to Japanese society, we will also examine different methods for field research, in preparation for thesis research in Japan.


See time table/rooster

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Participation element (attendance, presentation): 35%

  • Analytic element (Position papers): 25%

  • Research element (research essay 4,000 words): 40%


Blackboard plays an important role in this course. All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, and other information, except for the course readings, will be available on the course website.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enroll on time via uSis.
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dr. A. E. Ezawa