Historical sociology in Japan: Rebalancing between the social sciences and humanities

Gen Nogami*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The origin of historical sociology can be traced to Max Weber’s theory of modernization, which is an appropriate approach for studies in Japan. However, the Japanese image of ‘historical sociology’ is not that of a comparative history based on social scientific interests but is a history closer to cultural and social history and the history of ideas with an emphasis on descriptive research. This originates from the high degree of freedom given to the use of sources in the historical study of collective consciousness. Accordingly, it was easy to accept the impact of the linguistic turn. Subsequently, Japanese historical sociology evolved into discourse-historical research, media-historical research, and constructionist-historical research. In recent years, historical research on social issues and quantitative historical sociology have become increasingly popular. Historical sociological research has been differentiated into various separate sub-disciplines so it is difficult to identify a cohesive historical sociology as a field. However, the tradition of a high degree of freedom in terms of the use of sources continues to provide a stimulus for historical sociological studies in Japan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Historical sociology
  • historical sources
  • Japanese social history
  • modernization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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