- 東京大学大学院教育学研究科紀要 (ISSN:13421050)
- vol.46, pp.175-195, 2007-03-10
This paper examines the Japanese concept of gemba from the angle of sociology of knowledge. The concept of gemba has been widely used in Japanese schools, factories and offices, which can be literally translated to "the real scene" in English. However, the term gemba often suggests a sense of distinction between "we as powerless workers who know better about the situation" and "they as management or outsiders who do not know what really happens in the scene." Without referring to the social actors who use this concept under specified situation, it is very difficult to pinpoint down exactly what kinds of matter belongs to in a particular gemba. Delineating how this concept was actually used in different social settings, like high school, kindergarten and convenience stores, it suggests that, on the one hand, the concept's intension and the contents it connotes are often ambiguous, on the other hand, its extension often denotes a well-defined and clear boundary of what should be included within a particular gemba. The article thus discusses how the use of this concept may actually relate to group dynamics and thus it may reveal the power structure in contemporary Japanese society.