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Takemura, Eiji (1996) The perception of work in Tokugawa Japan: A study of Ishida Baigan and Ninomiya Sontoku. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029431

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Abstract

The study of work in the Tokugawa period by intellectual historians has revealed the linguistic and ritual ways in which work was ideologically represented during that time. Work, however, is not an activity which belongs only to the realm of ideology; the actual 'form' of work is dictated by economic and technological factors. This study focuses on Ishida Baigan and Ninomiya Sontoku, who both acted as key channels through which ideology and economy were amalgamated, the meaning of work identified and intellectual expression given to it. Ishida and Ninomiya are often cited as role models used by the late-Meiji and prewar governments to impose self-sacrifice and blind submission onto the people, rather than as media for the social construction of work in the Tokugawa years. Few Japanese scholars specialising in Ishida and Ninomiya are familiar with the theoretical, empirical and anthropological studies of work developing in Western scholarship; attempts have yet to be made to approach the thought of Ishida and Ninomiya from such perspectives, and, as a result, their importance in the social construction of work in the Tokugawa era has not been fully acknowledged. Neither of the two thinkers advocated passive adaptation to a portional role in society, nor submission to a particular role given by a superior: Ishida argued for a worker's active participation in decision-making in business affairs and for skills to maintain efficiency in the implementation of collective tasks (inter-personal and managerial skills). Ninomiya advocated the management of time, technology and the labour force in pursuing agricultural work. Ishida spoke of work for the benefit of the long-term prosperity of the household; Ninomiya viewed work not only as the means to secure the material prosperity of an individual but as a 'cumulative agency' for the successive betterment of the household for generations to come. In contrast to the accepted view of them as thinkers exclusively in favour of submission and hard labour, they acted as intermediaries through which elements of management and long-term vision were incorporated into the concept of work.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029431
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:13
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/29431

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