Group solidarity and social order in Japan

Michael Hechter, Satoshi Kanazawa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This paper seeks to explain why Japan has attained a higher level of social order than comparably developed western national societies. To do so, it distinguishes the attainment of local order in social groups from the global order in national societies. Recent models of spontaneous, self-organizing order are insufficient to account for global order. In contrast to the more popular normative explanation of order in Japan, which holds that a consensus on fundamental values derived from Confucian roots is an essential cause, this paper proposes a solidaristic theory built on rational choice premises. This new theory views global order as a by-product of dependence and visibility mechanisms within key social groups such as families, schools and firms. A wide range of comparative evidence reveals that the solidaristic theory provides a superior explanation of the high level of social order in Japan than the normative one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRational Choice Sociology
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Theory, Collective Action and Social Order
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9781789903256
ISBN (Print)9781789903249
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Crime
  • Dependence
  • Monitoring
  • Rational choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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