This article presents a definitional and historical summary of 'civil society' as a western concept, and then traces how it was used in Japanese political theory and practice. 'Civil society' discourse became a familiar term amongst post-war Japanese historians and social scientists in the period 1945-1970, and thus preceded the recent international proliferation of 'civil society' literature in the 'west' from the 1970s onwards. 'Civil society' discourse was politicised in practice in Japan in the 1950s and 1960s, principally in opposition movements wanting to encourage political participation by ordinary citizens. While some 'civil society' discourse in Japan was based on an idealisation of 'western' ideas and practice, it is also the case that the individualism and democratisation implied in 'civil society' discourse has been very differently understood in 'western' countries and very unevenly instituted in their political practice. A simple East-West frame makes significant similarities between Japanese ideas and practice and 'western' concepts and politics disappear, and additionally causes significant differences within the 'west' regarding individualism and democratisation to become invisible.
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||European Journal of Political Research|
|Publication status||Published - 2000 Jun|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science