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    Tate Shakai - The Vertical Society

    Kyouri Kai

    Knowledge :

    Tate Shakai - The Vertical Society

    Post by Kyouri Kai on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 2:40 pm

    Tate Shakai means a vertically structured society, like the military or a caste system. The phrase was made by Japanese sociologist Nakane Chie, who wrote a good book on it. From 1600 until 1868 Japan was an officially segregated society with 5 classes of people. At the top were the samurai, then the farmers, then the artisans, then the merchants, and finally the outcasts (the grave diggers, leather tanners, etc.). The system collapsed because by the end of the Shogunate rule the merchants had all the money. Yet even today a shadow of this system is still around; while a democracy on paper, the notion of Jeffersonian egalitarianism is still alien. Everyone belongs to some group, and every group has people of superior rank and status. The notion of boss and worker being perfect buddies after work without a thought of the company relationship for Japanese is impossible. The language itself has many words for "I" and "you", each showing how much respect (or lack of) one shows the other. This trait also contributes to a strong materialist mentality in Japan; of always trying to "keep up with the Jones" and many paying absurd prices for brand name and designer goods. There are other manifestations also. We'd think universities exist to educate the students. Yet in fact in Japan universities serve the needs of the professors more, who are given carte blanche for privileges while students are subjected to numerous excessive rules, and professors pay little regard to the quality of their classes. (In Japanese colleges you can nearly sleep your way through and get straight A's though). And some foreigners have quipped that the Mercedes that are illegally parked on the street get a lot fewer tickets than other cars--that may or may not be true. However, while in the US it's a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" in Japan it's really a plutocratic government "of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich".

    taken from Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers