Valedictory Lecture – A ‘Class’-Less Society Japan? How is Inequality Interpreted Without the Concept of Class?

I was puzzled why Japanese sociologists who study social mobility or social inequality don’t use the concept of “class” or kaikyu(階級)in Japanese, while using the term when writing in English. In Japanese, instead, they use kaisho (階層), whose literal translation in English is “strata.”

In this seminar, as a sociologist of knowledge to study Japanese society, I will explore how and why the concept of class (kaikyu) disappeared in academic writings among sociologists, and what societal consequences this disappearance has produced, especially its influence on the interpretation of inequality in Japanese society, which is often called “kakusa shakai” (格差社会) or a gap society.

This event will serve as Professor Kariya’s valedictory lecture, marking the culmination of his distinguished academic career. We warmly invite everyone to join us for this special occasion.

In-person only. Register here:

Professor Takehiko Kariya joined the University of Oxford in 2008. After completing his BA and MA degrees at the University of Tokyo, he studied at Northwestern University in the US, where he got his PhD in Sociology in 1988. After going back to Japan, he worked at the National Institute of Multimedia Education from 1988 to 1991, and then moved to the Graduate School of Education, University of Tokyo, where he taught sociology of education for almost two decades until he came to Oxford. His teaching at Oxford includes the Sociology of Japanese Society and Research Methods for Japanese Studies. His research interests cover sociology of education; social stratification and social mobility; social changes of Postwar Japan; social and educational policies. He was recently awarded a Japanese Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon (紫綬褒章), the Medal awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to academic and artistic developments, improvements, and accomplishments.