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Aspects of modernization in Japan : the adaptive and transformation processes of late Tokugawa society Ujimoto, Koji Victor

Abstract

The main task of this study was to examine the proposition that the modernization processes of Japan had commenced during the late Tokugawa period (1804-1867) and that the impetus to social change was not concentrated solely in the post-Meiji Restoration (1868) period. A survey of contemporary literature on modernization enabled us to select a suitable working definition of modernization. For analytical purposes, modernization was defined in terms of the adaptive and reforming efforts by the late Tokugawa ideologues. The definition implied nothing specific about the component processes involved and this permitted us to be free in selecting the component actions within the modernization process. The study of the adaptive and transformation processes consisted of an analysis of five biographies written in Japanese and representative of the ideologues of the late Tokugawa period. For our investigation, the method of content analysis was employed. This allowed the extraction of desired data according to explicitly formulated and systematic rules. The coding scheme employed to analyze the biographical material was designed taking into account our basic proposition. The process of assigning extracted data into the appropriate categories consisted of a dichotomization process whereby the data was recorded in mutually exclusive categories. The interpretative categories selected for content analysis were not based on a specific theory purporting to explain certain aspects of social change but it suggested a model which lent clarity to the study of the linkage between causal forces (societal conditions and formative factors) and the ideologue’s structures of activities. In this model, the underlying assumption was that the causal forces were linked to the observable variations by the ideologue's attitudes, orientations, and concepts. This assumption was supported by the data and the structure of activities gave rise to patterns which tended to be similar although the structural processes themselves varied from ideologue to ideologue. On the basis of our investigation, we concluded that the data obtained from the content analysis of five biographies supported our proposition that the adaptive and transformation processes of modern Japan established their roots during the late Tokugawa period and that the impetus to social change was not concentrated solely in the post Meiji Restoration period.

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