ASIA3002 Issues in Japanese Society and Culture

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Non-standard teaching periodHong KongFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the JPNSB Japanese Studies; JPNSP Japanese Studies; JPNSI Japanese Studies major sequences
  • Level 3 option in the Asian Studies major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit moves beyond popular stereotypes and essentialist understanding of Japan to provide students with a critical understanding of the sociocultural processes underpinning the emergence of that nation as a major global industrial power in the second half of the twentieth century, as well as an appreciation of the dynamics of contemporary twenty-first-century Japanese society. In particular, the unit complements the Japanese language units on offer by reinforcing students' appreciation of the sociocultural context within which the language operates. Using a multidisciplinary approach and with reference to both academic and popular culture texts and resources, the unit draws attention to the complex interplay between discourses, institutions and practices of work, family, culture, nation/citizenship and gender and sexuality in the day-to-day dynamics of Japanese society. These issues are examined both with reference to domestic Japanese society and in relation to the broader Asia–Pacific context.

The first half of the unit provides a framework for understanding Japan's sociocultural and economic transformations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, both with reference to domestic society and in relation to the wider Asia–Pacific region. The second half of the unit focuses on specific 'case studies' and discussion topics including: (1) Japan in relation to research debates on sociocultural change; (2) changing discourses of identity and nation; (3) popular culture and urban consumer culture; (4) shifting discourses of gender and sexuality; and (5) changing attitudes to work and corporate culture.
Students are able to (1) apply knowledge and analytical skills of Japanese society acquired through this unit to their Japanese language study; (2) understand the theoretical concepts necessary for Japan and Asia-related units in the Humanities and Social Sciences; (3) apply this critical understanding to their own societies, thereby demonstrating 'ethical sensitivity towards our diverse and globalised world'; (4) use academic and popular culture texts and resources to augment and reinforce their understanding of the sociocultural dynamics of Japan; (5) devise their own research topic in areas related to the unit; (6) independently research that topic by collecting, reading and critically analysing data and information; (7) draw on research skills and express themselves clearly and persuasively in writing, using an appropriate theoretical framework; and (8) express their ideas and appraise the ideas of others orally through active discussion in tutorials.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial paper; (2) research project/essay; and (3) tutorial discussion leading and contribution. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Reto Hofmann
Unit rules
any Level 2 ASIA unit or two Level 2 JAPN units
ASIA2218 Japan: Social and Cultural Tensions; ASIA2214 Japan in Changing Asia; ASIA2217 Shifting Identities in Japan
Contact hours
lectures: 20 hours; tutorials: 9 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.