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S&C Seminar Sociology: Identity and Difference in Japanese Society


Admission requirements

To enroll in the course, students must be enrolled in the Japanese studies program and should have followed BA1 Lecture Japan in the 21st century.


Identity is a popular topic that attracts much attention, but is also a source of many questions. What is an identity? How are identities formed? Do identities matter? How do we choose between multiple identities? In this course, we will explore existing frameworks for understanding the nature of identity, and processes of social differentiation which lead to the formation of identity and difference. We will do so by examining classic statements on the nature of different kind of identities: from class, racial and ethnic, national, gender, sexual to transnational, multi-cultural and postcolonial identities. Readings will combine theoretical readings as well as case studies in Japanese history and society (in a broad sense) to come to a better understanding of our own identities as well as the dynamics of identity and difference in Japanese society.

Course objectives

  1. To develop an understanding of key conceptualizations of identity and difference.

  2. To learn to critically assess processes of identity formation, social differentiation and inequality in Japanese society.

  3. To develop and extend skills in reading and critically assessing academic texts, to conduct independent research, write and orally present on a topic related to the course readings in an academic fashion..


Time and date on which the course is offered or a link to the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • 5 ects=140 hours – contact hours; 4 hours per week= 7 weeks = 28 hours – Reading: approx. 40 pages per week + assignments = 6 hours x 12 weeks= 72 hours – Presentation, paper writing = 40 hours

Assessment method

Participation element (attendance, participation, webpostings, and presentation): 40% • Analytical element (1,000 words): 20% • Research element (2,000-2,500 words): 40% Het eindcijfer voor het onderdeel is het gewogen gemiddelde van de uitslagen voor de deeltoetsen, met dien verstande dat het onderdeel alleen voldoende kan zijn wanneer de student voor alle deeltoetsen een voldoende heeft behaald. Indien een of meer van de deeltoetsen onvoldoende zijn, ontvangt de student een onvoldoende (onv.) als uitslag voor het gehele onderdeel.


Blackboard plays an essential part in this course. All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, course readings and announcements will be available on the course website. As part of class participation, students will also be required to make postings on the Blackboard website. Blackboard access is therefore essential in order to complete this course.

Reading list

See Blackboard