Historical Social Research

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Taro Hirai: Legitimacy or Legitimation? Intensive Analysis of Informal Decision-Making Processes of Disaster Response after 3.11 Earthquake [Abstract]

In this paper, based on my research about the mutual aids between local governments after the Great East Japan Disaster (3.11), I try to describe the process in which I have collected data based on typical theories and through the interaction with informants belonging to local governments in order to discuss the possible relationship between data and theories. First of all, I evaluate two recent empirical studies both of which reached one similar conclusion on one of the typical theoretical perspective shared by most researchers on Japanese society after 3.11. I name this perspective “divergent theory” because that perspective should generally point out the divergence of two incompatible forms of norm or narratives on political responses to that disaster. Secondly, I describe the data-producing process in which I have collected the data about the decision-making of mutual aid implementation initially through structured questionnaires which were planned based on those static theories and then I modified these data through face-to-face interviews. Consequently, I have come to interpret these political responses to disaster as convergence rather than divergence referring not only to my own process-produced data but to Luhmann’s sociological theory which was produced by comparative observation of interactions within political processes. Finally, I describe reactions of my informants who were introduced to my theoretical interpretation as part of the open-ended process of a reflexive relationship between data and theories in my research, which should be called “action research.”

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