Professor Matsumoto’s specialties are in the sociology of science and technology,
environmental sociology, and the social history of technology. He is particularly
working on the clarification of the dynamic interactions between science
and technology, and society and the environment. Up to now he has carried
out an exploration of the fierce competition between the four sectors of
the bureaucracy, industry, academia and the citizenry regarding science
and technology and their social interactions, an exploration of system
failure occurring from “structural disasters” that occur in the interstices
between natural and human disasters, and has conducted comparative sociological
research into the process of formation of the military-industrial-academic
complex. At present he is interested in the borderline regions of risk
theory, environmental sociology and bioethics and the generation of social
problems which have an uncertainty that makes it hard to judge rights and
wrongs. In his seminar, Professor Matsumoto firstly likes to have students
engage in a careful reading of the classics of sociology and acquire a
basis in the sociological way of thinking. He then thinks that things will
go well if students can narrow down their individual themes and acquire
the method and manners of looking at divergent opinions. Graduation theses
may be wide-ranging, focusing on life, the environment and technology.
What students take an interest in is an important aspect of their individuality.
At the same time, Professor Matsumoto hopes students will understand and
acquaint themselves with the basic explorative methodology through the
discussion in his seminars.
Specialist in social policy and social planning theory. Professor Takegawa
teaches courses in the field of planning and welfare. Currently he is endeavoring
to re- (de-?!) construct the theory of social policy from the standpoint
of sociology through an understanding of social planning as the formulation
of plans in social policy. He is also conducting research into a macrosociologcal
theory of contemporary society focusing on the welfare state as the cornerstone.
Professor Takegawa’s published works include Chiiki shakai keikaku to jumin
seikatsu (Local Social Planning and Life of the People) (1992), Fukushi
kokka to shimin shakai (The Welfare State and Civil Society) (1992), Fukushi
shakai no shakai seisaku (The Social Policy of the Welfare Society) (1999),
Shakai seisaku no naka no gendai (Present-day Social Policies) (1999),
and Fukushi shakai (Welfare Society) (2001). While the central themes in
his seminar are social issues and social policy, the seminar is managed
on the basis of the reading of basic literature and the presentation of
research by individual students. The first half of the year is taken up
in reading the overall basic literature of sociology for building up the
fundamental capacities of students in the study of sociology.
Professor Sato is conducting research into the fields of cultural and social consciousness and historical sociology. Although his theme is the overall understanding of the “modern age” in Japan, the problem is how to set up a sociological imagination from the concrete nature of the data material. He believes it is important to have not only a sensitivity toward and a capacity to comprehend theory, but also a methodological imagination that tempers the raw material into a subject for theoretical treatment. This kind of empiricism is also expected of graduation theses. Professor Sato’s publications include Dokusho kukan no kindai (The Modern Reading Space) (1987), Fukei no seisan and fukei no kaiho (The Production of Scenery and the Liberation of Scenery) (1994), and Ryugen-Higo (Rumor and Gossip) (1995). In his undergraduate seminar, as well as assigning tasks in the basic literature of the theory of social consciousness, media theory and cultural analysis, he emphasizes discussion based on the presentation of original reports by each of the participants.
Professor Shirahase’s specialty is research into population trends, disparity and inequality, generation and gender using the methods of metrical analysis. She also conducts research into public and private burden sharing in livelihood security, and is endeavoring to consider the nature of social security and the family from the framework of comparative welfare state theory. Professor Shirahase also specializes in social survey methods, focusing on quantitative surveys. A large variety of surveys are being vigorously carried out in different academic fields, but when we come to actually getting something out of the data, if the data themselves are collected in a sloppy manner then the subsequent argument will also collapse. Sociology, which takes as its themes the nature of society and social issues, may be vulnerable to the illusion that anyone can easily become a sociologist. That is why the significance of specializing in sociology as one of the social sciences and the significance of acquiring a sociological perspective is becoming increasingly important. In her seminar, while reading and discussing the basic literature, she emphasizes that students should establish their own individual research themes and show positive participation in research.
Professor Akagawa specializes in the sociology of social issues, the theory of sexuality and gender, the historical sociology of discourse, the social theory of population decline, and so on, and he is aspiring to be a “handyman of social surveys.” While carrying on his lifework in the tasks taken up in his Sexuality no rekishi shakai gaku (The Historical Sociology of Sexuality) (1999), he also intends to carry out work on a wide range of topics such as research literacy, metrical research based on questionnaire surveys, analysis of the content of media reports, interview surveys that delve into people’s world of subjective meaning (life history), and so on as he did in his Kodomo ga hette nani ga warui ka (Fewer Children—What’s Wrong with That?) (2004). With respect to participants in his seminar, he believes that not only theory, but also the concrete experiential exploration of social issues is an essential precondition. The three pillars for this are criticism of the “statistics” used when constructing a social issue, the composition of the conflict of “principles” held by the people who talk about social issues, and consideration of the “historical” process by which social issues are constructed. Professor Akagawa hopes that the setting up of the issues to be studied by each participant will develop synergistically in the process of discussion.
Professor Deguchi specializes in intellectual history of sociology and theoretical sociology. In particular, he follows the theoretical heritage of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School: Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Jürgen Habermas, and Axel Honneth. Working from this foundation, he applies critical social theory to communication, recognition, and the social self and analyzes pathological forms of those social phenomena. Sociology is, in essence, a way of responding to real society. The history of sociology is, in this sense, the accumulation of questions for society, and each sociological theory should be an expression of critical public opinion, answering and responding to such questions. Therefore, on one hand, the historical analysis of sociology must investigate public spaces where such question–answer relationships have been accumulated, and on the other hand, the theoretical sociology has to provide a theoretical foundation for criticism itself. From this perspective, Professor Deguchi clarifies the various elements that sociological theories comprise, by conducting retrospective research into their social and intellectual histories, and at the same time elucidates as to how each sociological theory can be justified in the public sphere. Furthermore, he is revisiting and reappraising the heritage of Japanese critical sociology, in terms of “galapagosized sociology” and is using it to propound an analysis of the uniqueness and generality of Japanese socioculture after modernization and globalization. His recent works in English are “Critical Theory and its development in post-war Japanese sociology: Pursuing true democracy in rapid capitalist modernization” (2013) in A. Elliott, M. Katagiri, and A. Sawai (eds.), Japanese Social Theory: from individualization to globalization in Japan today (Routledge); “Reappraising Keiichi Sakuta’s Sociology of Values: Beyond galapagosized sociology to a general sociocultural theory of solidarity” (2013), presented at the Japan–Korea joint session at the annual meeting of the Society for Sociological Theory in Japan, held at Seijo University; and “The Great East Japan Earthquake and its Underrepresentation: sociology of Japanese literature after the great disaster,” presented at the international conference “States of emergency: the emotional costs of global disasters and regional emergencies” (2014) at the Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia.
Professor Sukenari specializes in sociology of community. His major fields of study also include media studies and history of social research. Community research is a traditional field of Japanese sociology. While the main focus of community research has been social groups, regional activities, and personal network, most scholars have paid little attention to “housing” as a basis of everyday life and as a hub of social institutions. “Housing studies” emerged as a transdisciplinary academic field mainly in Europe during the mid-1980s, involving policy scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, geographers, and sociologists. Professor Sukenari translated Housing and Social Theory (1992) by Jim Kemeny, which is a known milestone in the field, and published the Japanese version Haujingu to fukushi kokka in 2014. He is currently invested in reconstructing the methodology for community research regarding housing, home, and residence. He has put much effort in comprehending the origins of Japanese housing system through the interpretation of historical materials. “Jutaku” no rekishi shakai gaku, The Historical Sociology of Dwelling Space (2008), based on his doctoral thesis (2005), represents the first step to this purpose. In addition, he has actively participated in social research, including quantitative analysis. In his seminar, Professor Sukenari stresses the importance of a flexible approach in research that can freely interact between theoretical interest and empirical method, “quantitative” and “qualitative” methods, and historical materials and contemporary events.