Social Policy, Interdisciplinary Area Studies and Oxford University: lessons from the study of Japan

A wide variety of factors have a bearing on the process of studying social policy in another country, including the gender, social class, age and institutional affiliation of the researcher and the changing relationship between the country of the researcher and the country being researched. This seminar, however, will focus on the argument that key influences on the work of area studies specialists are their (generally unexplored) assumptions about the relationship between the ‘person’ and ‘society’ and the roles of history and sociology. The significance of all these factors will be examined in the context of research on child welfare institutions in Japan during the 1990s and 2000s, a period when Japan was significantly re-evaluating the meaning of citizenship and its relationship to social policy.