Sociology explores how social structures of society generate both opportunities and limitations that characterize human lives. Sociology is considered an emerging discipline with just 200 years of history. However, social thought has existed for centuries in human history.
The sociohistorical approach is the least discussed area of research in sociology. Shintoism has influenced Japan’s social thought and family system for ages and was distinguished as a separate religion after the emergence of Buddhism and Confucianism.
Shintoism and Sociology
The nature religion Shintoism is Japan’s oldest religion. Nature and ancestor worship are primary. Shintoism lacks a doctrine, moral codes, and a sacred book. The reason attributed to it is that the Japanese are perfect and are descended from Gods. So, topics of societal change and reforms are irrelevant, and they do not require ethical principles.
The Shinto gods of Japan, also called Kami, take the form of concepts of life and objects. They include food, kitchen, mountain, rain, wind, etc. Ancestral reverence and ancestor worship is an important aspect of Shinto families.
The various sects of Shintoism focus on ceremonial purity and ritualism. The central idea accepted by all in common is that an individual must follow the impulse of nature and obey the emperor.
Japan has the world’s oldest continuing hereditary dynasty that started in 660 B.C. and exists even today. When Confucianism came to Japan, the main ideas were incorporated into Shintoism. The Buddhist ideals also gained huge popularity in Japan. In 1868 Shintoism gained authority in Japan by becoming the only state religion.
Japanese societal structure and families are bound by ideas of obedience, solidarity, and continuity. The patriarchal, hierarchical structure gives sons more power and importance over daughters. Individualism is curtailed by their family bonding and continuing unified cultures. Suiko Code mentions the importance of religious ceremonies for ensuring continuity traditions.
Meiji Restoration and Social thought
Meiji Restoration in 1868 and later large-scale industrialization in Japan influenced new social thoughts in Japan. Shakai-Ishikiron or social consciousness studies influenced sociological emergence.
Modern Sociology in Japan
The first chair of Sociology as a discipline was established at Tokyo University in 1893. In the 20th century, new western ideals of society by French and German philosophers started to gain prominence in Japan.
Japanese Sociological Society, formed in 1925, is currently the second-largest and powerful sociological association around the world after American Sociological Association.
Sociological fields of philosophy, family, industrialization, and religion are prominent areas of sociological research in Japan.