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Bonds of Civility

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  • 25 b/w illus. 4 colour illus. 1 table
  • Page extent: 480 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.7 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521601153 | ISBN-10: 0521601150)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published February 2005

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$33.99 (G)

In this path breaking book, Eiko Ikegami uncovers a complex history of social life in which aesthetic images became central to Japan's cultural identities. The people of premodern Japan built on earlier aesthetic traditions in part for their own sake, but also to find space for self-expression in the increasingly rigid and tightly controlled Tokugawa political system. In so doing, they incorporated the world of the beautiful within their social life which led to new modes of civility. They explored horizontal and voluntary ways of associating while immersing themselves in aesthetic group activities. Combining sociological insights in organizations with prodigious scholarship on cultural history, this book explores such wide-ranging topics as networks of performing arts, tea ceremony and haiku, the politics of kimono aesthetics, the rise of commercial publishing, the popularization of etiquette and manners, the vogue for androgyny in kabuki performance, and the rise of tacit modes of communication.


Part I. A Social Theory of State, Civility and Publics: Introduction: aesthetic Japan and the Tokugawa Network Revolution; 1. Civility without civil society: a comparative overview; 2. Culture and identity as emergent properties in networks: a theoretical overview; Part II. The Transformation of Associational and the Rise of Aesthetic Publics: 3. The medieval origin of aesthetic publics: linked poetry and the ritual logic of freedom; 4. The Late Medieval transformation of Za arts in struggles between vertical and horizontal alliances; 5. Tokugawa state formation and the transformation of aesthetic publics; 6. The rise of aesthetic civility; 7. The Haikai, network poetry: the politics of border crossing and subversion; 8. Poetry and protest: the rise of social power; 9. Tacit modes of communication and their contribution to Japanese national identities; Part III. Market, State, and Categorical Politics: 10. Categorical protest from the floating world: fashion, state and gender; 11. The information revolution: Japanese commercial publishing and styles of proto-modernity; 12. Hierarchical civility and beauty: etiquette and manners in Tokugawa manuals; Part IV. Concluding Reflections: 13. The rise of aesthetic Japan; Epilogue: toward a pluralistic view of communication styles; Endnotes; List of illustrations.

Prize Winner

Winner of the Eastern Sociological Society's 2006 Komarovsky Award

Winner of the American Sociological Association, Political Sociology Section

Winner of the 2006, the American Sociological Association, Best Book Award of the Culture Section

Honorable Mention, 2006 Barrington Moore Award of Comparative Historical Sociology

Winner of the 2007 John Whitney Hall Book Prize, Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies


"This book is as brilliant a description of the stratification of Japanese culture as Bourdieu's Distinction is of French culture. Ikegami's work opens up the social history of Japanese culture in the way that the past two generations of social historians from Elias to Darnton have done for European culture. This is as fine a work as we have for any part of the world on the long-term shaping of culture, and on the political consequences of cultural institutions."
-Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania

"In this fascinating and illuminating study of the politics of civility in Japan, Eiko Ikegami discusses the way that politeness and politics are inseparable. She shows persuasively that what in Western cultures is normally serparated, like art and politics, has been, and is, closely interwoven in Japan. It is an amazing society that rises before her audience's eyes, and, since Ikegami presents this astonishing story with enviable lucidity, her book is as accessible to the reader innocent in the ways of Japan as it is to the specialist."
-Peter Gay, Yale University

"In a world in which the social order was theoretically rigid, Ikegami demonstrates how people in medieval and early modern Japan carved out spheres through a variety of aesthetic associations to bring 'beauty' into their lives. Using sociological and anthropological tools and with the extraordinary training of a historian, Ikegami brings this world to life."
-Joshua Fogel, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Eiko Ikegami has made excellent use of her sociological insights and her command over Japanese history to present a highly original interpretation of Japanese society. This is an important contribution in exploring the interrelations between culture and politics in one of the most intriguing civilizations in the world."
-Amartya Sen, Harvard University

"Ikegami shows how the brilliant colorings of Japanese history were mobilized in and through what she calls `aesthetic publics', each reflecting a dynamic interplay among social networks that elicit, even as they shape, tacit cultural practices. She induces this highly original vision from a dazzling array of evidence across centuries. A fresh and powerful mode of network theorizing."
-Harrison White, Columbia University

"Reading Ikegami is like taking a trip through time. across social classes and beyond the boundaries of nations. One returns convinced that art and politics, aesthetics and economics, the rational and the sensual are so deeply interwoven that we should reconsider not only our notions of pre-modern Japan but also our notions of contemporary social life-in Japan and in 'the rest' as well."
-Christena Turner, Science

"...this book makes a marvelous addition to a list of recent monographs on early modern Japan that collectively revolutionize our understanding of the politics of culture under Tokugawa rule."
-Morgan Pitelka, Occidental College

"Ikegami's analysis of the medieval roots of [horizontal social networks in Tokugawa Japan], their connections with the growing market economy, their role in fostering the beginnings of a self-conscious national identity among Japanese and the rise of mass media is clear and insightful. The discussion of the various art forms as social practice is similarly excellent. Scholars of Japan will find much of value in this book."
-Gregory Smits, Pennsylvania State University, Journal of Social History

"Its theoretical sweep, historical focus, imaginative use of evidence and penetrating analyses make Bonds of Civility a treasure trove for sociologists of every persuasion."
-Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Columbia University, Social Forces

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