Bachelor in International Liberal Arts: Sociology
Theories determine consciously or unconsciously our perception of reality. We can increase our knowledge of the social world by applying different theories to a certain social issue, because we will be able to see it from different perspectives. This course introduces students to the major classical and contemporary social theories. We discuss their advantages and disadvantages. And we apply these theories to relevant contemporary social problems. This is an interactive lecture-type course. Students are required to complete homework assignments prior to class, to contribute frequently to class discussions, to make a presentation, and to write a mid-term test and a final paper.
At the end of this course, students should be able to: (i) understand the major social theories, (ii) compare, contrast and critically analyze theories, (iii) use social theories as schemes of interpretation in order to analyze social problems from different perspectives, (iv) apply theories creatively to everyday life, and (v) write about social theory in clear and concise prose.
Methods of Social Research
This course provides students with the general understanding of social research. Social research method has two major aspects: quantitative and qualitative aspects. This course mentions both aspects with some practical exercise, such as comparative reading of quantitative and qualitative literatures, a group project on survey implementation exercise, and introductory practice of statistical software on a computer. Active participation to class discussions and voluntary contribution to the group project are strongly expected.
The course aims to: i) provide general knowledge of social research; ii) strengthen the skill to develop a "good" questionnaire in order to collect quality data; iii) strengthen the skill to analyze data by using computer software; and iv) strengthen the skill to apply social research methods to students’ own research.
Sociology of Globalization
Since the 1990’s it became a conventional wisdom that we live in the age of "globalization." The various meanings of this claim are rarely explored, much less its basic assumptions ever challenged. We investigate the economic, political, and social dimensions of globalization and address several fundamental questions: Does globalization exist? Is it really global? Is globalization historically unprecedented? What are the economic, political, and social effects of globalization? Can it be stopped or altered? And what are the alternatives? This is an interactive lecture-type course. Students are required to complete homework assignments prior to class, to contribute frequently to class discussions, to make a presentation, and to write a mid-term test and a final paper.
At the end of this course, students should be able to: (i) discern the many angles of globalization, (ii) analyze the image of globalization as a supernatural force beyond human control critically, (iii) understand the historicity of globalization, and its character as a socio-political project (including its ideological aspects), (iv) detect differences between various anti-globalist standpoints, and (v) reasonably forecast possible directions in which globalization might head.
Sociological Analysis of Nihonjinron
The topic of this course is a comparison of the nihonjinron (theories about the uniqueness of Japanese and Japanese culture) and Western social theory. The nihonjinron is the only complex of social theories which was developed in a non-Western context. Key concepts of the nihonjinron are taken from the Japanese language completely independent of the ‘universal’ scientific concepts that have their roots in the West. By comparing these theories we are not only challenging our ideas and stereotypes of Japanese culture but also the Western belief that we can explain everything with ethnocentric Western theories. The major concepts and theories of the nihonjinron will be introduced. This is an interactive lecture-type course. Students are required to complete homework assignments prior to class, to contribute frequently to class discussions, to make a presentation, and to write a mid-term test and a final paper.
At the end of this course, students should be able to: (i) know the major theories of the nihonjinron and social theories, (ii) compare, contrast and critically analyze theories, (iii) understand how culture influenced the development of different theoretical traditions, and (iv) challenge their taken-for-granted ideas about the world.
Are we all becoming Americans as a result of globalization? Or are we keeping our local identities and values? Are Japanese giving up their preference for harmony, just because they are drinking Coca-Cola and eat at McDonald’s? The topic of this course is an introduction and critical analysis of different approaches to investigate cultural differences between social groups. We mainly focus on evaluating the relevance of several cultural dimensions and on how those relevant dimensions could be investigated empirically. We discuss dominant management (e.g. Hofstede), psychological (e.g. Triandis), and sociological/ anthropological approaches (e.g. Trommsdorff). This is an interactive lecture-type course. Students are required to complete homework assignments prior to class, to contribute frequently to class discussions, to make a presentation, and to write a mid-term test and a final paper.
At the end of this course, students should be able to: (i) understand the major comparative approaches to study culture, (ii) identify important cultural aspects which vary between cultures, and (iii) formulate a reliable and valid empirical research project.
The role of the seminar in sociology is to support the students’ individual research projects. Students have the responsibility to present their research at different stages of their project. Problems and challenges experienced with the research project will be discussed in the seminar (by all participants and not only by the professor). Such discussions give the presenters an opportunity to see their research from different perspectives and to learn from the advice of peers as well as from professors. Furthermore, through such interactions students may discover how to avoid problems in their own projects.
At the end of this course, students should be able to: (i) know how to analyze an issue from a sociological perspective, (ii) conduct their own research projects, and (iii) write their graduation thesis.
Workshop: Fuji Culture
This course explores the cultural and historical aspects of Mt. Fuji. When Mt. Fuji was registered as a World Cultural Heritage in 2013, 25 properties were listed as its component parts. The component parts include worship sites, Sengen Jinjya shrines, "Oshi" lodging houses, historical ascending routes, lava tree molds, and the Five Lakes and Oshino Hakkai springs. The students will visit many of the component parts in a 4-day field study held in early August. Every morning, the instructor will give lectures to the students on the history and cultural aspects of the properties and sites, and in the afternoon, the students will visit the actual properties and sites, and study more closely about their history and culture. On the last day, the students will climb up the Yoshida ascending route which Fuji-ko groups (historical religious groups who worshiped Mt. Fuji) took in the past, and explore the remains of their religious activities. The students are required to write a report based on the contents studied during the field study.
During the 4-day field study, the students are expected to: (1) gain knowledge about history and culture pertaining to Mt. Fuji, (2) identify the meaning and significance of the properties and sites listed in the World Cultural Heritage, (3) know the spiritual and religious activities of the historical Fuji-ko groups, and (4) appreciate the beauty and greatness of Mt. Fuji as the most celebrated mountain in Japan.