- 教育社会学研究 (ISSN:03873145)
- vol.70, pp.21-38, 2002-05-15 (Released:2011-03-18)
The 1990s were a turning point in world history; as Eric Hobsbawm wrote in his recent book, the “short twentieth century” ended in the early 1990s. With regard to public education, not only in Europe and North America, but in Japan as well, the structure of the public education system underwent dramatic change during the 1990s.In this paper I examine the characteristics of this change. The dominant feature of the change in the 1990s has often been conceptualized as “liberalization, ” or the “deregulation” or “marketization” of public education. However, this conceptualization does not adequately grasp the political aspect of the change, as Chantal Mouffe demonstrated when she termed it “the return of the political, ” or Nancy Fraser when she called the dilemma of justice in a “post-socialist” age one that was moving “from redistribution to recognition.” Focusing on this political aspect of the change in public education in the 1990s, I clarify the specificity of the historical context of this change.As in the Western countries, opportunities for public education in Japan expanded to all areas of society during the 1960s. There was, however, an important difference in the characteristics of this expansion between the West and Japan. In the West, it was initiated by the policy of the welfare state. In Japan, by contrast, the role of the welfare state was less important, and was replaced by the depoliticized triangle of family, school, and private enterprise.In the 1990s, Japan experienced major social and political upheavals. The “bubble economy, ” which had prevented the manifestation of economic crisis, burst in the early years of the decade. The depoliticized triangle of family, school, and private enterprise, which had replaced the welfare state, fell into a crisis of legitimacy.It was at this point that the triangle began to break down, and the need arose for an alternative to it. In this situation, the actual possibility emerged of a return of “the political.” In order to seek this possibility, it is necessary to reconstruct the space of political significance as well as democratic citizenship. The task of public education here should be focused on political life, which is, as Giorgio Agamben cited, to be distinguished from biological life. This is one of the most important points in the restructuring of public education.