In This Review

Japanese Civilization: A Comparative View
Japanese Civilization: A Comparative View
By S. N. Eisenstadt
University of Chicago Press, 1996, 581 pp

Japan was the first non-Western society to modernize, and Western and Japanese social scientists have long been interested in the ways in which modern Japan differs from modern Western nation-states and industrial societies. In this masterly work, a prominent sociologist analyzes the Japanese historical experience in insightful comparative perspective. Eisenstadt asks what role Japan is likely to play in a new world order dominated by the West. Given its continual ambivalence toward the West and its long preoccupation with the allegedly "pure Japanese spirit," how will Japan fit into a world in which it seems destined to play second fiddle to the United States? and will Japan escape from its parochialism and genuinely internationalize? There are important structural changes and shifts in policy that indicate a growing openness of Japanese society, but it is relatively limited, and older ways and stronger inward-looking attitudes are quite persistent.