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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Björn-Ole Kamm

Björn-Ole Kamm

Björn-Ole Kamm
Japanese Studies/Media Studies
(PhD Students, June 1, 2010 - October 31, 2010)
  • Global networks, “communities“, and identities
  • Otaku, roleplaying and storyteling game research

Dissertation Project (working title):

Labeling of the otaku-kei bunka – global networks, identity- and role-playing (games) in postmodern conditions
The background of my dissertation is the discourse on “globalisation”, “network society”, “risk society” and “Second Modernity”, and the effects on national societies, individuals as well as “successful life courses” these mostly macro-sociologically conceptualized processes are attributed with. Connected to this discourse, too, is the reevaluation of the so-called otaku. Deemed obsessive or even psychotic by Japanese mass media and critiques until lately, the “postmodern” community of these users of popular culture was declared a pioneering global network that is beyond the nation state and national identities. Do THE otaku as such really exist, though?

This dissertation follows the perspective of the labeling approach (symbolic interactionism) and aims at the dynamic-transactional other- and self-labeling processes intertwined with the otaku stereotype. The investigation focuses on the meaning an otaku label as well as a so labeled “community” might have for the daily lives and the self-images of individuals.

With the example of role-players, their networks and their convergent-divergent labels in three late-capitalist nation-states (Japan, Germany, USA) a second aim of this project is to question the “postmodern” competencies as they are set within the discourse. Role-playing games can offer opportunities for learning effects on several levels, can be the reason as well as the tool for learning (e.g. foreign languages). Because individual ascriptions of meaning are given center stage this project employs a qualitative methodology of interviews, network analysis and participant observations.