- 教育社会学研究 (ISSN:03873145)
- vol.84, pp.65-81, 2009-05-31
The purpose of this paper is to apply text theory to the reading of documents and to show an example of how the theory is applied. In the field of cultural studies, there has been an accumulation of attempts to read texts. Among texts, a document is a special text, since it is written to be read from the beginning and therefore requires a particular way of reading. One method of analysis is to locate a document in different discourses in which some words gain meanings and others lose them. This paper examines a judicial ruling as an example of a document and attempts to show how to read it. The judicial ruling taken here is a decision on a lawsuit seeking compensation for a suicide caused by bullying in Iwaki City (1990). The victim was a third-year male junior high school student. It attracted considerable attention because it was the first case in Japan in which a court accepted professional negligence by school teachers as the cause for the suicide of a student. Three different meanings in three different discourses, that is, judicial, sociological, and educational radiate from this decision. First, in the judicial discourse, it is seen as quite senseless since it accepts the negligence of school teachers who could not foresee the suicide of the victim. This senseless decision, however, may be understandable in a sociological discourse. For, as Durkheim states in The Suicide, people tend to commit suicide for reasons of trifling matters when they cannot feel any bond with their society. If people accept the thought that ijime bullying breaks the feelings of a bond with society, and if they recognize the maliciousness of this, school officials can be seen as responsible for preventing the worst possible outcome, even if the particular direct causes of a suicide are not necessarily identified. This is the logic of the ruling. At the same time, the ruling placed 40 percent of the negligence on the victim himself. This 40 percent acknowledges his will and reason, in other words, his personality until immediately before death. This indicates that other people can work with a victim as long as he is alive. There is no education without a personality. This is none other than to read the ruling as an educational discourse. As I have shown in the example above, reading a document in different discourses gives us opportunities to consider the many possible issues it potentially entails.