"Protecting the Weak": Social Justice and Wellbeing in China and Japan

Session Organizers:
Markus Heckel and Ioan Trifu
Friday, June 24, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
251 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
“Protecting the Weak: Entangled processes of framing, mobilization and institutionalization in East Asia”, is an interdisciplinary research project launched in January 2014 at Goethe University Frankfurt and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation within its initiative "Key issues for Academia and Society". Against the backdrop of ongoing conceptual entanglements between the West and East Asia, Chinese and Japanese societies are witnessing public claims for protection of “weak” groups and “weak” interests as well as the implementation of new institutional settings toward them. Informed by discourses that moved into public focus over the past years, the project comprises of four research clusters that look at disaster victims, employee wellbeing, cultural heritage and animal protection in both China and Japan.

Based on the participants’ works within these clusters, the proposed session links the topic of wellbeing with social justice. The concept of social justice is the object of rich and complex intellectual discourses about right and duties, which are directly put into question when confronted with concrete example of discrimination. Closely related to social justice, wellbeing encompasses a variety of concerns and challenges regarding the improvement of the conditions of human as well as non-human life. Both themes have become highly relevant in today’s political, social, and economic environments, yet remain mainly overlooked in the study of East Asian countries.

Under the theme of social justice, the first contribution of this session analyzes a proposal for a Confucian-inspired account of distributive justice from a political philosophy viewpoint. The second paper will empirically investigate the existence of social discrimination in daily-life interaction between administration and citizens in China based on a field experiment. Regarding the topic of wellbeing, the third contribution is using empirical quantitative methods to analyze the issue of commuting; a crucial aspect for the wellbeing of employees all over the major urban areas of the world. Finally, the last paper focuses on the moral economies governing animal wellbeing in Japan.

See more of: Q: Asian Capitalisms