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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

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Venue

JDZB
Saargemuender Str. 2
14195 Berlin

Co-organizers

German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB)



International Symposium

Happiness – Does Culture Matter?

November 21 - November 22, 2011

The happiness-income paradox has scholarship for close to four decades, but the dispute how it should be interpreted has not been finally settled. Japan is a case in point of major interest. From the ruins of World War II Japan rose to the top. Income per person increased manifold, but the average reported happiness did not. Other developed countries had a similar experience, but Japan was the first non-Western country to join the group of prosperous nations.

Various statistics support the assumption that the prosperity of a country does not go hand in hand with the level of happiness of its inhabitants. How significant, then, is material comfort and prosperity for individual members of a society and to what degree does it influence their subjective well-being? Over the years, the discussion of this question has given rise to the new field of happiness studies. Although it is routinely acknowledged that happiness depends on many factors, theories of happiness are typically grounded in Western ideas of progress and fulfilment. Since the French and American revolutions and since industrialization it is taken for granted that happiness does not arrive, but must be pursued through effort. Does this approach hold in other cultural contexts?

Japan, notwithstanding its rapid and categorical modernisation and Westernization in the Meiji period, is deeply indebted to East Asian cultural traditions which continue to inform its hypermodern society today. In the past, Asian cultures have not emphasized personal happiness as much as European cultures. At present, however, the promise of and call for happiness is widespread in Japan. It is not least because of this apparent change that Japan’s concern with happiness is of special interest. The similarity of its socio-economic development to Western industrial nations paired with its different cultural background make Japan a prime example for the analysis of the specific role of culture in shaping notions of happiness.

By joining experts from the fields of economics, psychology, sociology, political science and cultural anthropology in an intensive discussion session, we hope to come to a better understanding of the functionings of happiness in an inter-cultural context.

The latest crises of capitalism have given the quest for a better theory of well-being more urgency.

Presentations

Day 1         November 21st (Monday)

12:00
Lunch for Speakers and Organisers

13:00
Welcome

Friederike BOSSE (JDZB)

Introduction

Florian Coulmas


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Susanne Klien


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Carola Hommerich


German Institute for Japanese Studies

13:30
Session 1: Meanings of Happiness in Cross-cultural Comparison

Chair

Carola Hommerich


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Happiness, Culture and Context

Gordon MATHEWS (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Meanings of happiness in cross-cultural comparison

Yukiko UCHIDA (Kyoto University)

15:00
Coffee Break

15:30
Session 2 : Methodological Reflections: How to approach Happiness

Chair

Susanne Klien


German Institute for Japanese Studies

East-West difference in happiness: Cultural bias or cultural causation?

Ruut VEENHOVEN (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Happiness as collaborative autobiography: towards more realistic, culturally embedded, and empathic happiness studies

Neil THIN (University of Edinburgh)

17:50
Remarks on the “Study Commission on Growth, Wellbeing and Quality of Life”

Dr. Wolfram BACKERT (Secretariat, “Study Commission on Growth, Wellbeing and Quality of Life”)

18:00
Remarks on the “Working Gorup on Happiness” at the Cabinet’s Office

Yukiko UCHIDA (Kyoto University)

18:10
Discussion with Daniela KOLBE, MP

18:30
Dinner

Day 2         November 22nd (Tuesday)

9:00
Session 3: Achievement of Happiness

Chair

Chris Winkler


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Happiness – The Policy Issue

Bruno FREY (University of Zurich)

The Pursuit of Happiness: Wellbeing in an Unequal World

Kate PICKETT (University of York)

10:30
Coffee Break

11:00
Session 4: Case Studies

Chair

Susanne Klien


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Happiness and social cohesion in Britain and Japan: a comparative study of two island economies

Dimitris BALLAS (University of Sheffield)

Status Anxiety, Subjective Exclusion and Happiness – a German-Japanese Comparison

Carola Hommerich


German Institute for Japanese Studies

How to make voters happy? An analysis of political parties’ promise of happiness made in election manifestos

Chris Winkler


German Institute for Japanese Studies

12:30
Lunch

14:00
Session 5: Development, Social Progress and Happiness

Chair

Carola Hommerich


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Local Development Vision Project and People’s Life Evaluation in Hyogo

Takayoshi KUSAGO (Kansai University)

The Quest for a New Way of Life beyond Material Affluence: Aspirations, Expectations and Experiences of Young Urban In-migrants to Rural Areas in Contemporary Japan

Susanne Klien


German Institute for Japanese Studies

Attitude about international development among university students in Japan

Motoi SUZUKI (National Museum of Ethnology Osaka)

15:30
Coffee Break

16:00
Final Discussion

Chair

Florian Coulmas


German Institute for Japanese Studies

17:30
End of the symposium

Projects

Happiness in Japan: Continuities and Discontinuities