Civic Engagement in Contemporary Japan: Established and Emerging Repertoiresby Henk Vinken
Civic engagement is a concept of action that has become part of common vocabulary, not only in the West but also in many other regions of the world as well. A growing, yet still small number of scholarly works has recently emerged showing how in Japan citizen activism, volunteering, and social action for a public cause are dev- oping. This present volume is another, and in my view, important addition to the body of knowledge on civic engagement in Japan. The majority of books on related issues in Japan take on the perspective of organized civic life, in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or nonprofit organizations (NPOs): we know quite a number of things about the quantitative trends in these organizations, on their positioning, on their difficulties, and on the institutional contexts in which they have to work. We know relatively little – except for a small number of topical qualitative case studies – on broad issues that relate to civic engagement in Japan, inside or outside these formal organizations. This volume is the first to offer a wide scope of broad variety of forms of civic engagement in contemporary Japan. The volume is quite forceful in counterbalancing oversimplified ideas on an “ideal” civil society in which state, market, and civil society organizations are in- pendent and at best take on oppositional stances.
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