However, by the middle of the s, many Japanese are no longer confident in their economy, nor optimistic in their politics. This authoritative study analyses various aspects of Japanese society and economy in order to provide a balanced view between the optimism of the s and the pessimism characteristic of more recent years.
The Political Economy of Japanese Society is a revision and translation of a multidisciplinary research project carried out by the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo. Beginning with the late nineteenth century, it examines the historical developments of Japan's contemporary political economy, paying particular attention to the changes that have occurred 'from below'.
Social actors who have often been given peripheral treatment, such as opposition parties, the aged, female workers and foreign workers, are brought to the forefront of the analysis, alongside those considered more mainstream, such as the governing party, large corporations and labour unions. The Japanese political economy of the s and 90s has had a strong impact on the global economy, and this book also analyses selective influences on the outside world, in particular on other Asian nations and the USA. Volume 1 analyses the structures of the Japanese political economy which encouraged continuous economic growth in the period from to , focusing on such phenomena as Japanese political management, the Japanese employment system, and one-party dominance in politics.
Volume 2 examines some of the problems inherited from this period of dramatic economic growth. Policymakers, for example, can both feed information into the range of media, and also attempt to anticipate audience response to the manner in which policy is shaped and presented. The key point is therefore that all of the elements involved in the communications circuit intersect and are dynamic. Whilst in past research each element e. We begin with media content.
Our approach is based on the assumption that in any controversial area there will be competing ways of explaining events and their history. These often relate to different political positions and can be seen as ideological if they relate to the legitimation of ways of understanding that are connected to social interests. In this way, ideology meaning an interest-linked perspective and the struggle for legitimacy by groups go hand in hand.
Our method begins by setting out the range of available arguments in public discourse on a specific subject. We then analyse the news texts to establish which of these appear and how they do so in the flow of news programming and press coverage. Some may be referenced only occasionally or in passing while others occupy a much more dominant position, being highlighted in news headlines or in interview questions or editorials.
The story is organised around this way of understanding migration, and the different elements of the story such as interviewees, the information quoted, the selection of images and editorial comment, all work to elaborate and legitimise it as a key theme. News may appear as a sometimes chaotic flow of information and debate but it is also underpinned by key assumptions about social relationships and how they are to be understood.
At the heart of these are beliefs about motivations, cause and effect, responsibility and consequence. So a newspaper report on people seeking asylum might make assumptions on each of these. The responsibility is with politicians for failing to stop it and the consequences are that great burdens are placed on British society.
There are many flaws and false assumptions in such a chain of understanding. In our content analyses we break down the text to identify the major subject areas which are pursued in the news, and then examine the explanatory frameworks which underpin them. This qualitative approach involves detailed analysis of key explanatory themes in headlines and the text of news programmes and newspaper articles. We examine the preference given to some arguments in that they are highlighted by journalists or are repeatedly used or referred to across news reports.
Further, while there was extensive coverage of the violence, there was very little analysis of the nature and causes. The practical effect was to remove the rationale for Palestinian action. This study showed the way in which the Palestinian perspectives were effectively marginalised in the debate, and the Israeli perspectives promoted.
4.1. Types of Societies
In some studies we make a quantitative assessment of the presence of such themes across news reporting by counting the use of specific phrases and meaningful terms. On this basis we are able to give an account of the exact language used to develop specific themes and the manner in which the dominance of some was established. This is then cross-related to our audience research by a process of asking focus group members to write headlines on the subject in question. We have used this approach in a number of studies and typically participants are able to reproduce spontaneously from memory the key themes which we have established as present in media accounts Briant et al.
In the next section, we look specifically at media content. The media response to the financial crisis of and its aftermath illustrates the way in which competing ideologies battle for legitimacy.
The Political Economy of Japanese Society. Volume 1. The State or the Market | BANNO JUNJI
The key instigator to the crisis was that global banks had leant huge sums of money to inflated property markets, mainly in the USA but also in the UK and other parts of Europe. These loans were often given to people and institutions that would not be able to repay them. It has been argued that the pursuit of profit, and disproportionate bonuses, meant that the deals were being pushed through, and risks ignored.
As Elliot and Atkinson put it:. In January , panellists at the World Economic Forum in Davos were asked how the big banks of North America and Europe had failed to spot the potential losses from sub-prime lending. In the UK, the Labour party would have, in the past, been the political party most likely to criticise such a development and the behaviour that caused it. For most of the twentieth century the Labour party was socially democratic and believed that free market profiteering should be curbed, that the people as a collective should own key sectors of industry and commerce and the rights of working people should be defended.
However, after election defeats to the Conservatives in , , and , the Labour party rethought its brand and approach. In doing so it adopted a very supportive policy towards the financial sector Philo, New Labour would have a bigger safety net for the poor and spend more on health and the public sector.
Under Blair and his chancellor Gordon Brown later British Prime Minister the deregulation of the banks not only continued but was extended.
The finance sector, based in London, is very powerful and can impose pressures on governments with the often repeated argument that it can be relatively mobile in response to less than favourable conditions within any nation state. The City of London exerts substantial political power, perhaps more so than any other non-governmental sector, and even well-intentioned governments can be extremely nervous of very wealthy individuals and institutions that can move huge sums of money in and out of economies.
The city of London is an extremely powerful institution, perhaps the most effective lobbyist, I think, in history. But what was the impact of these social, political and commercial relationships on media coverage of the banking crisis? The bulk of the British press is privately owned and the free market and deregulation has consistently been supported by the Murdoch-owned press including The Sun and The Times as well as the conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
The Daily Mirror is traditionally more left-wing, but also supportive of the Labour party. Whilst we also have to make the qualification that these are commercial businesses and have to connect with audiences in order to generate sales, it is the case that the majority of the mainstream press were pre-disposed to promote policies on the neo-liberal end of the spectrum.
The case is more complex with the British public service broadcaster, the BBC, which is also a key supplier of public information through its television — and less so online — services. The range of political arguments which appear on the BBC are shaped by its own definition of democracy. The basis for this is that the population vote for elected representatives and the BBC then features these representatives on television and radio and what they say constitutes the limits of democratic debate.
In other words, TV debate is mostly limited to the views of the three main parties in Britain, the Conservative party, the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats. But since all of these have become wedded to free market philosophy, the discussion of alternatives to this approach becomes very sparse.
Therefore, across the majority of the media the bankers, private enterprise and high profits were celebrated. The economy appeared to be booming, house prices rose and the New Labour government had increased tax revenues to spend on health and education. The result of these factors is that when the crash occurred, those who appeared in the mainstream media to discuss solutions tended to be those who are most supportive of — or drawn from — the system which created the problems.
The British mainstream press did reflect the anger felt by its readers in response to the crash in , many of whom had pensions and savings which were potentially threatened. The Daily Mail roared from its front page:. But amidst the fury, there are no demands here for alternative solutions, such as taking back the bonuses through a wealth tax, or taking the bulk of the financial sector into public ownership.
This exclusion of debate about radical alternatives to cuts, such as taxing the bankers or other wealthy groups, is entirely irrespective of the potential popularity of these policies. This would reduce the deficit because government spending includes interest paid on the debt and because the proposal would avoid the cuts. Without these, there would be less unemployment and therefore more tax revenue.
Such programmes often seek out what they see as extreme debate. These more radical solutions lay outside the media debate amongst those who were asked to contribute. In essence, the message was that the bankers were indeed at fault but there is no alternative.
As The Sun explains in this editorial:. Many will ask if it is right that tax payers are forced to subsidise irresponsible borrowers and greedy banks. But what was the alternative? Neither America nor Britain could stand by and watch their economies disintegrate. The Sun , 20th September The argument is then taken further by David Cameron who, as Prime Minister, argued that we must stop attacking the bankers.
In the Daily Telegraph he was reported as saying:. The Daily Telegraph , 15th January In the face of such structures of power, the media acts more as a release for frustration and discontent rather than a forum to explore potential alternatives. No transformation of the economy or the banking system is considered viable and the solution became simply to cut public spending — a key priority of the UK coalition government elected in The central justification for this was that welfare spending was too high.
The banking crash and the intrinsic problems of the economic systems were replaced in the public agenda with other issues allegedly requiring urgent solutions — and groups other than the bankers being the target of political action Briant et al. A key aspect of our method has also been to study media content and processes of audience reception simultaneously, in order to understand the way in which audiences negotiate their beliefs and attitudes in response to media messages.
These messages are not received uniformly by all audiences, and the level of influence that they have varies greatly. We have been interested in exploring the key factors in the capacity of audiences to accept or reject messages, and the consequences of this for the shaping of public understanding. In the Glasgow University Media Group undertook a study of UK news coverage and attitudes and beliefs about disability and disabled people Briant et al.
This involved, firstly, a content analysis across comparable periods in and , designed to track changes in style, content or volume across media coverage of policy change relating to disability benefits and, in particular, to highlight media responses to the recent cuts made by the UK coalition government. This work was complemented by an audience reception study to assess the way in which reporting was being negotiated by members of the public in terms of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes, and further to explore the key trends highlighted in the content study.
The analysis showed that, across the sample periods, there had not only been a significant increase in the reporting of disability in the print media, but this increase had been accompanied by a shift in the way that disability was being reported. The subject had become more politicised and there had been a reduction in the proportion of articles which described disabled people in sympathetic terms, whilst those focusing on disability benefit and fraud had grown. They were also very clear on what the intended message was — but there were disagreements over whether it was believed.
The official figure is closer to 0. However, as these comments suggest, the assumption of its widespread nature was not always related to a certainty about those actually claiming fraudulently, but a perception supported by the belief that the system is very easily manipulated:. Or even bad backs. Speaker 3 : And if you want to defraud then Further, there was a great deal of resentment directed at the large numbers of people believed to be fraudulently claiming benefit:. In this sense there was evidence that the media coverage, combined with the processes of logic that the system was easy to defraud and therefore it was likely that people would do it , and claims of knowledge about specific cases resulted in the development of beliefs about disability and fraud.
On the other hand, disabled people themselves expressed significant anger at some of the press reporting and at the accusations linking disabled people with scrounging and fraudulent claims. For some of these, the issue of disabled people not receiving the level of support they required was a bigger issue than fraud.
In these cases, disabled people used their direct experience to reject the news message. Direct experience was therefore a substantial factor in the negotiation of the media message. The power of the media message tended to be heightened in those cases in which there was no direct experience or other knowledge of an issue, and conversely to decrease when people had direct experience. In the disability study the large majority of those we spoke to had some experience of disability either through a close family member or close friends, many of whom had tried to get benefits and had failed.
One participant, for example, talked about how hard it had been for her mother to get any benefits and another described the difficulties her partner had faced in trying to get access to the services he required. But this did not lead to a simple rejection of the of the media message — the power of the media message could remain and in fact, we found that audience members often held the two potentially competing beliefs at the one time — recognising the widespread and genuine hardships of disability but also believing that huge numbers were not deserving of benefits.
In a similar way, when we studied TV and press reporting of mental illness, we found that it focussed on violent incidents. People who worked in the area of mental health and who had professional experience tended to discount this media view and highlight that only a tiny minority of those with mental health issues were potentially violent. Yet there were also examples in which the fear generated by media coverage overwhelmed direct experience.
In the following case a young woman described how she had worked alongside elderly people in a hospital. There people were in no way dangerous or violent yet she was afraid of them because of what she had seen on television:. Not all of them were old, some of them were younger. Across these studies, thus, we found that a number of factors including direct experience, knowledge from other sources, logic and the generation of fear or anger contributed to the degree to which audiences accepted or rejected the media message.
A consistent theme is that where there is a lack of alternatives presented, the message is much less likely to be rejected. Overall, the mainstream media in the UK have given very little space to views beyond those offered by the main political parties. In relation to the financial crisis, this has reduced the range of responses to a choice between having cuts now, as offered by the current coalition government, or having them later, as offered by the Labour party. Whilst social changes at the level of the current transformation of the welfare system do not require public support, they are certainly facilitated by it, and just as crucially by the elimination of active opposition.
In a similar way, when we studied TV and press reporting of mental illness, we found that it focussed on violent incidents. People who worked in the area of mental health and who had professional experience tended to discount this media view and highlight that only a tiny minority of those with mental health issues were potentially violent.
Yet there were also examples in which the fear generated by media coverage overwhelmed direct experience. In the following case a young woman described how she had worked alongside elderly people in a hospital. There people were in no way dangerous or violent yet she was afraid of them because of what she had seen on television:.
Not all of them were old, some of them were younger. Across these studies, thus, we found that a number of factors including direct experience, knowledge from other sources, logic and the generation of fear or anger contributed to the degree to which audiences accepted or rejected the media message. A consistent theme is that where there is a lack of alternatives presented, the message is much less likely to be rejected. Overall, the mainstream media in the UK have given very little space to views beyond those offered by the main political parties.
In relation to the financial crisis, this has reduced the range of responses to a choice between having cuts now, as offered by the current coalition government, or having them later, as offered by the Labour party. Whilst social changes at the level of the current transformation of the welfare system do not require public support, they are certainly facilitated by it, and just as crucially by the elimination of active opposition.
This is primarily because governments constantly strive for electoral support. While the interplay of public opinion, policy implementation, and social change is complex, the media can often play a legitimising role. In the next section, which looks at audience reception of media accounts of climate change, we introduce a further element to our analysis of media and social change: that of the key factors which influence individual and collective behaviour.
In the Glasgow University Media Group conducted a major research project examining the impact of media coverage of climate change on audience understanding and engagement with climate change. The climate policy objectives of the current coalition government in the UK revolve around de-carbonisation — a process which is enshrined in law through the Climate Change Act.
But climate change is distinctive from other policy issues, such as, for example, the economic policies or welfare cuts already discussed, in that their success or failure lies to a significant degree with public participation, which goes way beyond attitudinal support of the policies. Patterns in attitudes and belief need to be accompanied by the adoption of new behavioural patterns — and it is in these that social change will ultimately take place.
There are a range of factors which have contributed to the shape of current reporting of climate change, which has been routinely criticised for its lack of clarity on the basic scientific arguments.
There is evidence that there are powerful and well-resourced bodies operating to systematically undermine accurate media reporting in this area as part of the wider spread of climate scepticism. In February , it was revealed by The Guardian that an anti-renewables media campaign was funded by secretive trusts linked to wealthy US and UK business people Goldenberg, The trusts have financed organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action.
They have invested millions of dollars over the past decade in contrarian think tanks and activists to spread scepticism, and increasingly a part of this is the anti-renewables rhetoric. As a result news reporting is increasingly shaped by this construction of polarisation and conflict, with the media, rather than the scientists, or even the politicians, setting the terms of the debate, meaning that the key scientific arguments upon which policy is based are constantly undermined. In addition to the polarised nature of coverage, since an equal if not greater problem is that the level of global and national media coverage has suffered a sharp decline Fischer, , reflecting a re-ordering of the political priorities since the economic crash.
This in turn affects media priorities, since politicians have a key role in setting agendas and highlighting issues for discussion. In previous work, we have shown the conditions under which new information is produced. The link between smoking and cancer has also clearly produced substantial behavioural change. But there are also examples in which new information does not produce such changes. Our aim was to establish why new messages vary in their effects, and to identify the possible triggers for potential behavioural change.
With this aim we developed methods which involved immersing our participants in a new information environment which we constructed. We conducted a series of focus groups across the UK, recruited on normal socio-demographic criteria. All of the materials represented in differing forms and from differing perspectives three future scenarios which were developed through detailed research and consultation with experts in the related scientific field. The first scenario documented a mass flood in Bangladesh that leads to loss of land and the forced migration of millions of the population.
Migrants initially journeyed to India but were turned away by border control agents and are eventually picked up in the Bay of Bengal by ferries chartered by the international community. Many disperse to areas in Europe and it is reported that , are due to port in the UK city of Southampton where protestors are demonstrating against their arrival. The second scenario focused on the local effects of climate change. The flood forces thousands from their homes and businesses and the report included predictions about the long-term implications for the Scottish economy.
We set out initially to investigate the way in which audiences negotiate the coverage — a key element of this was the way in which they assess the credibility of sources and attribute trust. However, whilst the scientists themselves were trusted, the science itself was seen to be largely theoretical rather than evidence-based and therefore difficult to prove, as this exchange shows:. Facilitator : So did you have any doubt about the science of it then? If you read National Geographic, was it possible to predict these things at all?
You read into it what you want. It just swaps about. High-income group, Crowborough. There was a sense that the evidence could be easily manipulated to present different arguments, and promote different agendas. One of the groups thought to be engaged in presenting agenda-led information were the politicians — this related to not only the fact that politicians were one of the main groups speaking on the issue much more than the scientists themselves but that public trust in them was very low. This left audiences with no clear idea of who to believe on this subject, and combined with a strong feeling of general powerlessness about this as well as other issues in public life.
In spite of general sympathy towards the issue and a recognition of its importance, the overall picture of current audience reception was therefore one of confusion, cynicism and distrust about public communications. On the subject of changing individual behaviours, beyond the adoption of recycling, most people had not made conscious changes due to their concerns about climate change. Again this was in spite of a strong awareness of the importance of doing so. Whilst cost and convenience were cited as reasons for not making changes, the sense of powerlessness, that individuals cannot make a difference and that, at the level of policy, those in charge could not be trusted to make decisions for the greater good, also played a role in this disengagement.
To compound this the current dip in media attention to the subject was also found to be having an impact — overwhelmingly people felt it was less a pressing subject than it had been in the past, and, for most, the economic recovery was a greater priority, with ethical concerns characterised as a luxury for more prosperous times. Having established their views and levels of engagement to climate change, we then introduced the new information in the form of our constructed television reports and newspaper articles.
The Bangladesh refugee story had a particularly strong impact. The main reason for the greater concern and urgency was that this scenario tapped into existing worries about issues such as immigration, and the scarcity of resources such as employment and housing. The reports highlighted to participants the potential personal consequences of climate change and substantially enhanced concern. Once they saw that the science is solidly based, and the potential consequences are real and severe, they saw more clearly that action has to be taken.
The aims of taking action — as well as the risks of not doing so — became clear. To assess the extent of attitudinal change we asked participants to state how important climate change was to them on a scale of 1 to 10 both before the new information and after the new information was introduced. This is a substantial increase, and provides evidence of genuine attitudinal change in response to the scenarios.
It reflects the potential for new information to impact on attitudes in the short-term. However, when we asked about the impact of this increased concern upon their position on ethical behaviours, we found a marked lack of commitment to behavioural change. Again, most people saw the importance of behavioural change, but the original reasons for disengagement were widely repeated: that individuals cannot make a difference, changes have to be made at the level of government who are currently not trusted and that they were not sure what more could be done once issues of cost and convenience were considered.
The longitudinal findings — which were based on follow-up interviews with half the original sample six months later — confirmed that the majority had not made changes to their behaviour. But media accounts — and the related conflicts in understanding — also played a role. The sense of not knowing who or what to trust in terms of the most effective course of action, rooted in the proliferation of media opinions and arguments, continued to be cited as a significant barrier to action.
Also important was the belief that climate change was no longer a priority issue. In spite of these barriers, however, in our longer-term research we did actually find a sizable minority who changed their behaviour in response to the information that they received. It was notable that those who had made the greatest changes included participants for whom at least one of the scenarios had a considerable impact.
An Asian bakery owner, for example, believed that the Bangladesh scenario threatened her security and that of her own community and the concern it generated had become deep-rooted in the preceding six months. Further, there was, in the majority of groups, a clear sense that decisive action was important and would have to be taken.
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There was an acceptance, for example, that air travel might have to be curbed or made more expensive. Such action would have to be initiated at government level. It seems likely that if a clear lead was given then the public would, however grudgingly, accept it. This actually reflects the history of public acceptance of legislation on issues such as wearing seat belts in cars or motor cycle crash helmets, but this does require organised collective action. In our study, individual decisions to change were not seen as especially effective. Commitments to behavioural change quickly evaporate if it is not felt that the broader support and participation is there.
In the longer term, a willingness to engage with these issues can quickly translate into increased frustration if good intentions are unrealisable due to a lack of opportunity — for example, it is difficult to commit to cycling to work every day, without the protection of a network of cycle lanes. The longitudinal element of the climate change research also allowed us to look more closely at the role that the media play in the negotiations of beliefs and associated behaviours through the recurrence and reinforcement of particular messages.
Across the interviews, we found a relationship between the prior exposure to information, often related to strength of attitude, on the subject and the degree to which the information impacted on beliefs and opinions. Those who had been least exposed to either subject were most open to adjusting their views and conversely those who arrived at the groups with most exposure were least likely to have their opinions changed by the new information.
This was the case even if the information they had been exposed to was polarised, or inaccurate. In fact, we found only one group who claimed never to have read or heard anyone deny the science — and everyone in this group accepted the general assumption of anthropogenic climate change. But exposure to a great degree of polarised coverage of the issue often led to very firm opinions of the opposite position: that the science was unclear and inconsistent.
As a consequence, when we revisited half of our sample six months later, in spite of their immediate responses, the majority claimed that the experience of taking part in the group did not change their attitudes or behaviours in relation to climate change in the longer term. Most acknowledged that their earlier concern had waned. Evidently the impact of the information and discussions had not always been sustained during the intervening six months. What did appear to have happened in those months was that participants had become more alert to information about climate change: almost all said they were more likely to read or listen to such information than they had previously even those who had claimed to be very informed.
As they became more alert, the impact of the information presented during the groups was reduced by the coverage encountered in the actual media environment. The emphasis on uncertainty — which functioned to close down viable behavioural choices — was further enhanced by the continually reinforced construction of society as suffering from low public decency and the associated lack of trust to be attributed to public figures.
The wider media environment therefore works against the attitudinal change found in our study, in that the audience engagement and the potential for behavioural change which we introduced was largely not sustained once people were subsequently exposed to more actual media coverage. The information that people are given in media accounts can both legitimise the actions of the powerful, and facilitate change at the collective level, but can also limit and shape the behaviours of individuals which are central to wider social change.
There is a need to examine the relationship between beliefs about the world and the political conclusions drawn by the public, the relationship between political conclusions and taking political action, and between those conclusions and individual and collective commitments to behavioural change. Our research has shown that the media play a facilitating role — in the easing through of policy action by repetition and reinforcement of media messages, and the absence of proposed alternatives — and also a possible role in shaping behaviour, especially where these are linked to other types of structural support.
The key to both of these lies in the complex process of negotiation in which audiences receive messages involving a range of factors including current and past media accounts, beliefs, knowledge and prior experience, structural barriers and values. These may lead to attitudinal and ultimately behavioural commitment and change, or may inhibit these. In relation to the role of public communications about climate change, for example, there is little point in driving home the message about behavioural change unless there are simple, effective and supported solutions open to people from which they can see the real benefits.
But media accounts can play a central role in not only legitimising certain courses of action, but the placing of trust and credibility in particular versions of the possible directions for social policies. They can also be used to insert doubt and confusion into a debate such as climate change, and may reduce commitments to action. The media are in essence a contested space in which the most powerful groups can establish the dominance of specific messages. But, as we have shown, the complexity of the reception process then creates the possibility of variations in attitudinal and behavioural response.
Blake, J. Overcoming the 'value-action gap' in environmental policy: Tensions between national policy and local experience. Local Environment, 4 3 , Boykoff, M. Who speaks for the climate? Making sense of media reporting on climate change. Balance as bias: Global warming and the US prestige press.