How are Japanese people socialized into the prevailing political order? To what extent do different elements of Japanese society act as checks and balances on the power of the state, and the ruling elite? This chapter examines two aspects of Japanese society: sources of socialization (such as education and policing), and the nature of civil society, as manifested in the media, community organizations and protest movements. Most mainstream scholars would argue that Japanese institutions are highly successful in producing good citizens, and that the majority of Japanese people play a constructive role in the political and civic order. Revisionists are generally more sceptical, believing that the Japanese state in some way compels or coerces its citizens into compliance and outward conformity. Those analysts who use culturalist approaches view Japanese society as primarily shaped by cultural norms and traditions, rather than by state-led social forces and institutions.
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