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Group solidarity and social order in Japan

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This paper seeks to explain why Japan has attained a higher level of social order than comparably developed western national societies. To do so, it distinguishes the attainment of local order in social groups from the global order in national societies. Recent models of spontaneous, self-organizing order are insufficient to account for global order. In contrast to the more popular normative explanation of order in Japan, which holds that a consensus on fundamental values derived from Confucian roots is an essential cause, this paper proposes a solidaristic theory built on rational choice premises. This new theory views global order as a by-product of dependence and visibility mechanisms within key social groups such as families, schools and firms. A wide range of comparative evidence reveals that the solidaristic theory provides a superior explanation of the high level of social order in Japan than the normative one.

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