The "Community" and its Transformation in Urban Space-Hakata, Fukuoka City, from the 1910's to the 1930's-

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In Japan, studies on "community" and the reality of everyday life in the city have been both assumed and largely ignored by geographers. This study, in exploring the role of various social bonds within a local area and the influence of some institutions on its bonds, attempts to clarify some aspects of "community" and its transformation in the city. Though "community" is a highly ambiguous notion, it could be defined as the complete range of relationships an individual is led to establish with other peoples within definite place and that members of it conform to certain unwritten rules or informal norms which can't be applied to outsiders. The research field for this study is Hakata, Fukuoka City, from the 1910's to the 1930's. In Hakata, the "Hakata Yamakasa" has long been held and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. The main results of this study are summarised as follows: 1) There is a mutually supportive role of neighbors materially and emotionally. The inhabitants conform to informal norms, for example, the duty of mutual aids at ceramonial occasions and payment of money used for local community's everyday expenses. In consumption, the inhabitants buy daily necessfties mainly through pedlars and retailers who depend on face-to-face local interaction. It seems that this mode of buying has a potential role in the reinforcement of connection within the neighborhood. Though it is clear that the residents keep close contact with each other, we must pay attention to the difference of these interactions according to gender, age, occupation, socio-economic status and so forth. 2) As at "Yamakasa" the various and heterogeneous residents are integrated together in the internal system, they recognize each other as members of the local community and preserve identity and loyaly to their own community through various observances. This identity is necessary for the formation and maintenance of community. The division between the internal system and the external one is kept strictly during the festival. This is, however, not absolute and consistent, but relative and contingent. The nature of each grovp is context-bounded and contingent on two relationships, both intragroup-relation and intergroup-relation. The author emphasizes the contingency of these relationships and the relationship with externalities at various levels. 3) In the process of modernization and urbanization, the intervention of administration and capital to the local community is thorugh the labor process, consumption and relief of the poor, etc. Although from the standpoint of inhabitants, local community forms an 'absolute territory' which can be a place of identity, from the standpoint of capital, it is a 'relative territory' and an obstacle to capital interests occasionally. The new systems gradually include or substitute for the existing institutions and social order or norms which depend on mutuality within the local community. In short, these institutions make individuals subject to control and the accumulation of capital. It seems, however, that there are cases where through the struggle around these institutions a different consciousness from the old one is generated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-365
Number of pages25
JournalJapanese Journal of Human Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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