The influence of technology on the Yamato social model

Ronald Wayne Atkins, Salve Regina University


The thesis of this study proposes that two fundamentally different social models are operative within Japanese society: one based on the Shinto archetype and historical Japanese social traditions, the other on Western philosophic and political principles introduced mainly by the occupation authorities following the end of World War II. The traditional Yamato model merges Shinto beliefs, Confucian teachings and Buddhist religious practices to structure a harmonious society based on hierarchy. The model draws its power from individual and collective acceptance of the Emperor's hereditary and legitimate right to head the social hierarchy. The newer, official social code is represented by the Japanese Constitution of 1946, which is based on the Western political idealism of democracy and individual rights. The current Constitution was implemented during the period of United States occupation and contains concepts which conflict with the historical pattern of Japanese social and political development. To understand the direction of change within Japanese society it is important to know which of the two models is dominant: the Yamato Constitution based on hierarchy or the Western and alien model based on individual rights. A three phased approach was used to conduct the research. The first, a historical study, identified the beliefs associated with the Yamato social model and their influence on decisions made by Japanese rulers at critical points in Japanese history. Phase two involved field research in Japan needed to develop the data collection document. The final phase necessitated the selection of survey groups and distribution of questionnaires. It was the researcher's intent to test the strength of traditional beliefs held by individuals with a high likelihood of exposure to Western influences and technology. The results indicate strong rejection of traditional beliefs associated with the power and influence of the Emperor. In addition, the findings reveal a trend toward individualism and personal rights and a rejection of hierarchy. The dissertation concludes with an assessment of the influence of changing attitudes on the social harmony that has been a positive feature of the Japanese social order.

Subject Area

History|Social structure|Political science

Recommended Citation

Atkins, Ronald Wayne, "The influence of technology on the Yamato social model" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI9619708.

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