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Title: Japan and the global revival of the 'civil society' idea: Contemporaneity and the retreat of criticality
Authors: Avenell, S. 
Keywords: Civil society
Contemporary Japanese history
Political thought
Issue Date: Sep-2011
Citation: Avenell, S. (2011-09). Japan and the global revival of the 'civil society' idea: Contemporaneity and the retreat of criticality. Japan Forum 23 (3) : 311-338. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This article examines the pioneering role of Japanese intellectuals in the contemporary (post-1945) global revival of civil society. Although often overlooked or discounted in recent scholarship, Japanese intellectuals were among the first contemporary theorists worldwide to re-conceptualize civil society as a remedy for two of the central problematics of the post-World War II era: the theoretical and practical crisis in Marxism, on the one hand, and the anomie of advanced capitalist development, on the other hand. The article argues that any comprehensive global history of contemporary civil society must consider the insights of these Japanese thinkers alongside those of their Continental and North American counterparts. More critically, the article also suggests that Japanese civil society thought merits attention because it vividly exposes the dearth of criticality and excess of celebration in the idea's recent resurgence. The result in Japan (and elsewhere) has been an ironic and troubling retreat of criticality coupled with a naïve faith in the therapeutic capacity of civil society. Copyright © 2011 BAJS.
Source Title: Japan Forum
ISSN: 09555803
DOI: 10.1080/09555803.2011.597510
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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