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Japan in the 21st Century: Sociological Perspectives



This course introduces to major aspects of postwar Japanese society from a sociological perspective. A sociological approach not only attempts to describe major aspects of a society, but aims to understand and explain them. Hence, our goal is to become acquainted with major topics in postwar Japanese society, but also to acquire tools for critically analyzing these social phenomena. Topics will include the impact of rapid economic growth in the early postwar period on living and working conditions, gender inequality in the workplace, ethnic identities and class inequalities, as well as the 2011 Northern Japan earthquake and its aftermath.

Course objectives

  1. To develop a good understanding of central aspects of, and key social issues in postwar Japanese society.

  2. To acquire an understanding of central sociological concepts relevant to the study of Japanese society

  3. To learn how to read academic literature critically, and develop the ability to synthesize and assess assigned reading materials.


See timetable.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

5 ects = 140 hours
Contact hours: 2 hours per week = 12 weeks = 24 hours
Reading: approx. 30 pages + notes per week = 7 hours x 12 weeks = 84 hours
Webpostings, exercises, mentoring sessions, exam preparation = 32 hours

Assessment method

Midterm exam (open questions and essay): 40%
Final exam (open questions and essay): 45%
Assignments (webpostings): 15%

All partial elements (both exams, and the assignment element) of the course must be passed to receive a passing grade for the course.
Resits for the midterm and final exam will be take place in the resit period in January 2015.


Blackboard plays an essential part in this course. All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, information about 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. See Blackboard, course documents.

Reading list

Ishida, Hiroshi, and David Slater (Eds.). 2010. Social Class in Contemporary Japan: Structures, Sorting, and Strategies. London: Routledge. (Available at Van Stockum on Breestraat Leiden).


Registration through uSis. Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registrationprocedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:

Registration Contractonderwijs via:


Dr.A. Ezawa.