Events and Activities
Citizen Science in the Digital Age
– Engaging civil society in social science and humanities research –
The progress of digital technology creates new opportunities in all areas of the civil soci-ety. The expansion of citizen science is one example. With citizens taking part in re-search activities, their understanding about science deepens. At the same time, civic engagement can support and advance scientific research. Nevertheless, compared to the natural sciences, practices of citizen science in the social sciences and the humanities (SSH) are still rare.
Combining experiences and insights by leading experts from Japan and abroad, our conference will take a closer look at the opportunities and challenges for citizen science in SSH. Where and how can civil society get engaged? What are the potential benefits? What risks need to be addressed? How can respective collaborations be initiated and coordinated? How will this effect both society and research in SSH?
Japan’s and Germany’s ambitious national frameworks of Society 5.0 and Industry 4.0 acknowledge the importance of education and research as key success factors in the digital transformation. Universities are not only to develop the necessary human capital and to contribute to technological advances, they are also to play key roles with regard to social inclusion and life-long learning. To do so, they are expected to deepen and widen cross-organizational and international cooperation. Last, but not least they are urged to adjust their core activities of teaching, research and administration to take advantage of new digital technologies. How are universities in Germany and Japan responding to these challenges? How do they see themselves affected? What strategies do they pursue? Our two speakers are best suited to answer these questions based on their leading positions and professional careers in higher education and research institutions in Germany and Japan.
Bernd Huber, President of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Miho Funamori, Strategy Manager at the Research Center for Open Science and Data Platform at National Institute of Informatics
This issue starts with a Special Section on “Emotions and Affect in Studies on Contemporary Japan,” featuring original research articles on cutting edge topics including the dynamics of conversion to right-wing ideologies, the emotional toll of providing care for left-wing political prisoners, and the struggles in “coming out” for families of LGB individuals, prefaced with an introduction by Barbara Holthus grounding the studies in the sociology of emotion.
We also have three original articles covering topics that range from an analysis of historical memory in Yū Miri’s JR Ueno Station Park Exit, the shifting identity narratives of the Tokyo 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bids, and how katakana is used by discourse producers to communicate nuanced perspectives.
At this year’s ICAS 11 conference in Leiden, Netherlands, the DIJ was represented by papers given by Barbara Holthus, Hanno Jentzsch, and Nora Kottmann. The Max-Weber Foundation also featured a book table, with numerous publications by the DIJ on display.
For more on this, see this report (in German).
Environmental scholar Lawrence Buell defined toxic discourse as a mode of writing that expresses “anxiety arising from a perceived threat of environmental hazard” (2003, 30-31). Fictional works from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents feature characters who appear to be mentally unstable because of this anxiety. Rather than their insanity discrediting them in the eyes of the nuclear industry, this presentation draws inspiration from Buell to consider how insanity can be used by victims of nuclear disasters to claim authority through toxic discourse by crafting narratives of resistance. One of the most controversial images stemming from nuclear disasters is of people who remain in highly irradiated areas unfit for human habitation. In novels by Kimura Yūsuke (Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa’s Deluge) and Alina Bronsky (Baba Dunja’s Last Love), the so-called insanity of these characters allows them to comment critically on the postdisaster situation, specifically the evaluation of risk and the bankruptcy of credibility. They provide insightful voices of resistance to the narratives of containment and safety perpetuated by the government and nuclear industry. The presentation ends with a consideration of actual residents in contaminated zones in Kamanaka Hitomi’s documentary Little Voices from Fukushima.
Rachel DiNitto, University of Oregon
Over the last ten years the reported number of migrant workers in Japan has more than tripled, reaching almost 1.5 million in 2018. This unprecedented high number of foreigners migrating to work and live in Japan requires policy makers and academics to understand what is happening, why and how. We will take up the issue from the perspective of political science.
What do political parties have to say about the issue? What are their policy proposals, who is pushing them, and how high does immigration rank on the respective political agendas?
Shrinking but Happy? Investigating the Interplay of Social and Individual-Level Predictors of Well-Being in Rural Japanese Communities
Rural communities in Japan have been facing accelerating structural and demographic decline in recent decades. Yet, there is limited evidence on how these challenges impact communities and the quality of life of their inhabitants in Japan. Much of the available international data shows that rural municipalities report higher subjective well-being than urban areas despite being affected by greater structural decline in objective well-being indices.
This presentation will introduce a comprehensive, multidimensional approach to well-being, sensitive to individual and ‘Japanese’ constructions of happiness, and provide tentative insights into well-being in the rural Japanese town of Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, which is average in terms of its demographic and economic situation.
Dionyssios Askitis, University of Vienna
Citizen energy, known as “Bürgerenergie”, forms a major pillar of the transition to renewable energies (RE) in Germany. From as early as the 1990s German citizens pioneered in in solar and wind power or biomass energy projects and invested into RE as individual households, companies or as members within more than 900 energy cooperatives. Similarly, though less known, Japan as well has a long-established vibrant citizen energy movement, also referred to as “community power”. While initially focusing on building RE capacity, a growing number of citizen energy companies ventured into direct marketing of “green energy”.
The shift from a feed-in-tariff (FIT) to a feed-in-premium (FIP) and auction scheme, the institutional framework for grid integration, the deregulation of electricity markets, but also the changing social acceptance of RE and the ecological consciousness among the wider public present major challenges for citizen energy projects and their business models. Highlighting differences in the regulatory environment and public opinion, our speakers will be comparing the development of citizen energy in Germany and Japan. Despite differences, the citizen energy movement in both countries is presently challenged by tighter regulations for RE, growing local resistance to RE projects, and barriers to market integration. At the same time, direct markets for “green energy” are underdeveloped in Japan and, albeit more developed, contribute little to the expansion of renewables in Germany. Eiji Oishi will comment the discussion from a practitioner and business point of view.
Carsten Herbes, Nuertingen-Geislingen University, Germany
Jörg Raupach-Sumiya, Ritsumeikan University, Osaka
Eiji Oishi, Minna Denryoku, Tokyo