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Top>Hakumon CHUO [2011 Autumn Issue]>[Open Campus]Mock lesson for everyone Interested in Chuo University

Hakumon CHUOIndex

[Open Campus]Mock lesson for everyone Interested in Chuo University

Considering social withdrawal from the perspective of sociology

Masami Yajima
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Chuo University

This mock lecture dealt with a theme of social withdrawal, a phenomenon which is most prevalent among young people. Many of the high school students in the classroom were accompanied by their parents, showing the high level of interest in this theme as a familiar family problem.

Before entering the main theme of the lecture, Professor Yajima pointed out the difference between university classes and classes in high school or junior high school. "When taking classes at university, students should question the statement made by the professor, who is also a researcher."

An emotional problem and a relationship problem

First, Professor Yajima explained the reason for social withdrawal. "According to the perspective used, social withdrawal is either an emotional problem or a relationship problem," said the professor. Classification as an emotional problem refers to associations with apathy, lack of tolerance and sensitive personalities which are easily harmed or which are overly gentle. Classification as a relationship problem refers to social withdrawal as a symptom of current interpersonal relationships between young people.

When discussing relationship problems, Professor Yajima introduced the following conventional viewpoint: "Interpersonal skills are decreasing in young people today. Even young people who can communicate effectively with friends suddenly become unable to speak when dealing with people in different age groups or circumstances." Next, he led the lecture in a different direction by questioning the validity of the assertion that young people today lack interpersonal skills.

Professor Yajima referred to the era of mass employment which took place in Japan around 1960. Young people from the country seeking work in the cities were unable to communicate effectively with new acquaintances. "Social phobia has existed since long ago. Actually, young people in the past may have had lower interpersonal skills than young people today," emphasized the professor.

"Era of social withdrawal" and "Era of concern regarding social withdrawal"

Professor Masami Yajima

To continue, Professor Yajima stated that we are currently experiencing an era of social withdrawal and proposed that this era has two main aspects. The first aspect is that conditions in the current era enable social withdrawal. More specifically, the current era is materially rich, provides places for social withdrawal, and contains people who assist the socially withdrawn.

In addressing the second aspect, Professor Yajima explained how concern regarding social withdrawal has arisen because social withdrawal presents a problem in Japan's current business world. "The Japanese industrial complex has shifted from primary and secondary industries which did not require high-level interpersonal skills to tertiary industries based on sales and service. At corporations in such industries, even new employees are expected to possess high-level interpersonal skills," he noted. Since interpersonal relationships influence corporate performance in current society, corporations demand that young people possess high-level interpersonal skills. Young people incapable of such high-level communication are labeled as failures and become socially withdrawn.

Professor Yajima finished his lecture with the following advice: "In current society, the time for personal reflection is diminishing. Therefore, it is important to create personal time for reflecting upon yourself." This advice marked the end of a genial 50-minute mock lecture which was interspersed with occasional jokes by the professor.

(Student Reporter: Yuki Nomura, 1st year student, Faculty of Economics)