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Kolloquium/Vortragsreihe zu aktuellen Themen im Sommersemester 2021

Book Presentation "The Discursive Construction of Hierarchy in Japanese Society: An Ethnographic Study of Secondary School Clubs"

29.04.2021 13:00 Uhr – 14:00 Uhr

Seniority-based hierarchy (jouge kankei) is omnipresent in Japanese group dynamics. How one comports depends on one’s status and position vis-à-vis others. Yet, despite its prevalence, extant literature on contemporary Japanese society offers little explanations as to how and where individuals growing up in Japan acquire such social knowledge on a collective scale, nor the nature and characteristics of this hierarchy.

This book provides an ethnographic account on the social construction of hierarchy to address the afore-mentioned questions. Set in the critical adolescent years of growing up, it examines how jouge kankei as an enduring feature of Japanese social life is created and reproduced among secondary school students. It shows the ways in which students in school club activities use language and a range of discursive practices to enact, legitimise, and transmit jouge kankei. Although rigid and conservative in appearance, findings suggest that jouge kankei may also have an egalitarian role to play in Japanese society. In addition, this book presentation also covers topics such as doing research in Japanese school contexts, as well as implications of findings for secondary school education in Japan.


Zi Wang PhotoZi Wang is a postdoctoral fellow and co-investigator of the research project “Language, migration and happiness in Germany”, based at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He received his PhD in sociology and Asian Studies in 2018 and has since held visiting fellowships/lectureships in France (Sciences Po Paris and Sciences Po Lille), Italy (Ca’ Foscari Venice), Japan (Waseda University) and Turkey (Altinbas University). His most recent research and publication activities span multiple fields such as discourse, education, migration and well-being studies. These include the monographs The Role of Language in the Well-Being of Migrants (Routledge, forthcoming) and The Discursive Construction of Hierarchy in Japan (De Gruyter, 2020). Zi Wang’s works are funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG Research Grant, 2018-2021) and the European Commission (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, 2021-2023).