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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Christiane Rühle

Japanese Studies, Political Science
(PhD Students, October 3, 2012 - July 31, 2013)

Research fields

Research into consumption and lifestyle-scenarios from a cultural studies perspective; Happiness consumption in Japan; cultural and educational policy in Japan.

Dissertation project

Working title: Happiness by consumption in Japan – An exploration of Japanese consumer worlds and lifestyle scenarios

Research purpose

The thesis intends to deal with the Japanese debate about the consumer-driven pursuit of a good life quality in urban Japan with special reference to socio-cultural generation of consumer needs. The purpose of the dissertation project is the analysis of the linkage between cultural and sociopoltical aspects of japanese consumer behavior since the middle of the 1990s.

Research questions (sample)

  1. “Happiness Actors”: Can a happiness industry be identified in contemporary Japan? If so, which companies or institutions (think tanks) are behind the creation of such goods and / or the enforcement of notions of happiness on the market?
  2. “Terminology of Happiness”: Can certain terms in the market be summarized for terminology of happiness? For example “emotional medicine for the heart” (kokoro no kusuri), “relaxation” (rirakusēshon) “[internal] calmness” (yasuragi), “[emotional] recovery” (iyashi), “love” (ai), “home” (furusato), “nostalgic feeling” (natsukashisa)? 

Methodological Approach

To comply with the cognitive interest the cultural studies thesis will chose an interdisciplinary approach. Initially a cultural studies and ethnographic fieldwork in the form of qualitative expert interviews is necessary as well as intensive research and evaluation of library and archival materials.