Accepted Paper:

Ethnographic writing and social problems  


Kazunori Oshima

Paper short abstract:

Critical discussion is essential and indispensable to solve endemic social problems not only at the level of a nation, but also at the level of a grass-roots organization such as a self-governing association. Ethnographic writing is expected to contribute to the solution of these problems.

Paper long abstract:

My fieldwork investigation of two self-governing associations in the Kyoto Prefecture has revealed that there are great gaps between the ideals stipulated in the existing laws on the one hand, and the realities evidenced in the field on the other hand. The problems encountered in the field are triple: old-timers hold to their vested interests, newcomers evidence ongoing apathy, and some public servants demonstrate chronic inertia. The fundamental problem between old-timers and newcomers is the fact that the former avoid engaging in critical discussion on the problems with the latter. The reform of public service is a national agenda concern.

My fieldwork evidence leads me to state that we have a long way to go before we can meet the ideals required by the existing laws. What I recommend is that we should stop following other people blindly and have a critical discussion on problems.

My ethnographic writing is to be hoped to throw light on the nature of social problems and to contribute to the solution of the problems.

Panel P073
Predicaments of public anthropology and fundamental questions for the future of the discipline (Commission on Theoretical Anthropology)