Transcending labels and panics

the logic of Japanese youth problems*

Tuukka Toivonen, Yuki Imoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social scientific research on Japanese youth experienced something of a boom in the 2000s and is attracting further attention following the triple disaster of 11 March 2011. But while advances have been made in understanding young people’s relationship to work, marginalization, and activism, for instance, the premises of this emerging field of research remain shaky. Despite cursory critiques of associated labels and recurring “moral panics,” the dynamics of youth problems have not yet been sufficiently understood. This paper draws on the well-known case of the “nerdy” otaku to illustrate how youth problems arise from the complex interaction of labels, incidents, and prominent actors–that is, their more visible side–with underlying assumptions, strategies, and interests–that is, the less salient dimension of such problems. After highlighting important connections between the otaku phenomenon and the two subsequent phenomena of hikikomori and NEET, four key mechanisms are set out that govern the way youth problem debates emerge and evolve more generally (i.e., the respective roles of “industries,” “translators,” rhetorical strategies, and youth as a “muted group”). The paper concludes by relating the findings to post-tsunami Japan, arguing that the way in which young people are debated in the 2010s may turn out surprisingly similar to the debates in the 2000s, unless the very configuration of the institutions and actors that construct youth debates changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-86
Number of pages26
JournalContemporary Japan
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar 1

Fingerprint

translator
disaster
incident
Japan
industry
interaction
Group

Keywords

  • hikikomori
  • labeling
  • moral panics
  • NEET
  • otaku
  • youth problems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies

Cite this

Transcending labels and panics : the logic of Japanese youth problems*. / Toivonen, Tuukka; Imoto, Yuki.

In: Contemporary Japan, Vol. 25, No. 1, 01.03.2013, p. 61-86.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{e27854e19d0741e3a5adc0d4bad4b0e9,
title = "Transcending labels and panics: the logic of Japanese youth problems*",
abstract = "Social scientific research on Japanese youth experienced something of a boom in the 2000s and is attracting further attention following the triple disaster of 11 March 2011. But while advances have been made in understanding young people’s relationship to work, marginalization, and activism, for instance, the premises of this emerging field of research remain shaky. Despite cursory critiques of associated labels and recurring “moral panics,” the dynamics of youth problems have not yet been sufficiently understood. This paper draws on the well-known case of the “nerdy” otaku to illustrate how youth problems arise from the complex interaction of labels, incidents, and prominent actors–that is, their more visible side–with underlying assumptions, strategies, and interests–that is, the less salient dimension of such problems. After highlighting important connections between the otaku phenomenon and the two subsequent phenomena of hikikomori and NEET, four key mechanisms are set out that govern the way youth problem debates emerge and evolve more generally (i.e., the respective roles of “industries,” “translators,” rhetorical strategies, and youth as a “muted group”). The paper concludes by relating the findings to post-tsunami Japan, arguing that the way in which young people are debated in the 2010s may turn out surprisingly similar to the debates in the 2000s, unless the very configuration of the institutions and actors that construct youth debates changes.",
keywords = "hikikomori, labeling, moral panics, NEET, otaku, youth problems",
author = "Tuukka Toivonen and Yuki Imoto",
year = "2013",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1515/cj-2013-0004",
language = "English",
volume = "25",
pages = "61--86",
journal = "Contemporary Japan",
issn = "1869-2729",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis Ltd.",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Transcending labels and panics

T2 - the logic of Japanese youth problems*

AU - Toivonen, Tuukka

AU - Imoto, Yuki

PY - 2013/3/1

Y1 - 2013/3/1

N2 - Social scientific research on Japanese youth experienced something of a boom in the 2000s and is attracting further attention following the triple disaster of 11 March 2011. But while advances have been made in understanding young people’s relationship to work, marginalization, and activism, for instance, the premises of this emerging field of research remain shaky. Despite cursory critiques of associated labels and recurring “moral panics,” the dynamics of youth problems have not yet been sufficiently understood. This paper draws on the well-known case of the “nerdy” otaku to illustrate how youth problems arise from the complex interaction of labels, incidents, and prominent actors–that is, their more visible side–with underlying assumptions, strategies, and interests–that is, the less salient dimension of such problems. After highlighting important connections between the otaku phenomenon and the two subsequent phenomena of hikikomori and NEET, four key mechanisms are set out that govern the way youth problem debates emerge and evolve more generally (i.e., the respective roles of “industries,” “translators,” rhetorical strategies, and youth as a “muted group”). The paper concludes by relating the findings to post-tsunami Japan, arguing that the way in which young people are debated in the 2010s may turn out surprisingly similar to the debates in the 2000s, unless the very configuration of the institutions and actors that construct youth debates changes.

AB - Social scientific research on Japanese youth experienced something of a boom in the 2000s and is attracting further attention following the triple disaster of 11 March 2011. But while advances have been made in understanding young people’s relationship to work, marginalization, and activism, for instance, the premises of this emerging field of research remain shaky. Despite cursory critiques of associated labels and recurring “moral panics,” the dynamics of youth problems have not yet been sufficiently understood. This paper draws on the well-known case of the “nerdy” otaku to illustrate how youth problems arise from the complex interaction of labels, incidents, and prominent actors–that is, their more visible side–with underlying assumptions, strategies, and interests–that is, the less salient dimension of such problems. After highlighting important connections between the otaku phenomenon and the two subsequent phenomena of hikikomori and NEET, four key mechanisms are set out that govern the way youth problem debates emerge and evolve more generally (i.e., the respective roles of “industries,” “translators,” rhetorical strategies, and youth as a “muted group”). The paper concludes by relating the findings to post-tsunami Japan, arguing that the way in which young people are debated in the 2010s may turn out surprisingly similar to the debates in the 2000s, unless the very configuration of the institutions and actors that construct youth debates changes.

KW - hikikomori

KW - labeling

KW - moral panics

KW - NEET

KW - otaku

KW - youth problems

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84987975005&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84987975005&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1515/cj-2013-0004

DO - 10.1515/cj-2013-0004

M3 - Article

VL - 25

SP - 61

EP - 86

JO - Contemporary Japan

JF - Contemporary Japan

SN - 1869-2729

IS - 1

ER -