Culture, Society, and the Individual: Cross-Cultural Political Psychology in Japan

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Abstract

Studies of political behavior and attitudes in Japan have often looked to similarities and differences between the West, most notably the U.S., and Japan. This paper details two approaches concerned with examining Japanese social and political behavior within a cross-cultural context. The first—nihonjinron—works with cultural nationalism, which argues that Japanese values are unique and thus no social theory developed in the West can be applied to Japanese society. The second approach is characterized by field studies and tries to assess Japanese social behavior by comparing it to that of Americans and Europeans. There is a great deal of knowledge on political behavior in Western countries which scholars in Japan often refer to in order to evaluate the significance of their survey results. But there is still limited information on the Japanese situation, and any attempt to construct a general theory in either cultural or cross-cultural political psychology will have to refer also to human attitudes in this non-Western industrial society.

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