Japanese Culture And Japanese People

2323 WordsDec 10, 201410 Pages
Japan is seen by many in the West as a mysterious, homogenous culture where traditional values and a long history stretch from time immemorial into practices today. What is especially problematic with this view (beyond issues of the essentialization of Japanese culture) is that many Japanese people hold this same belief (Stanlaw 2004; Block and Cameron 2002). Nihonjinron, or theories of Japanese people for Japanese people is a popular literature genre that advocates for the uniqueness of “Japaneseness”(Stanlaw 2004). However, in a country that now more than ever is being influenced by globalization, a process in which “social, economic, political, cultural, and demographic” changes that take place within nations cannot be understood without looking at the relations worldwide (Kearney 1995:547; Block and Cameron 2002), the homogeneity of Japanese culture is being challenged (dubbed by some as the “crumbling of the monolith” (Noguchi and Fotos 2001)). Of particular importance is the role of language in these processes. Language is an interdependent and inherent part of social life (Schieffelin and Ochs 1986), “our very sense of who we are, where we belong and why, and how we relate to those around us” (Llamas and Watt 2010: 1), “a definition of human beings in the world,” (Woolard and Schieffelin 1994:56) and interpretations go on. What all of these have in common is that social reality is inseparable from language. As such, language socialization, language ideologies, and

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