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Spring Verdure Issue (May)


2008 MEXT Global COE

"Political Economy of Institutional Construction" Program

As the final installment in the series introducing the 3 institutes of Waseda University which were selected as a 2008 MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) Global COE (Center of Excellence), we will discuss the program "Political Economy of Institutional Construction: Toward an Expectation-Realizing Society" (GLOPE II, Institute Leader: Professor Aiji Tanaka, Faculty of Political Science and Economics).

Seeking a society with many opportunities for "the realization of expectations"

The behavior of individuals and groups are influenced by "expectations", which are personal desires and predictions towards current lifestyles, future lifestyles, and the behavior of others. The formation of these expectations is encouraged and regulated by "systems", which are behavioral norms and rules formulated by society. Furthermore, these systems are formed based on expectations which are shared by people, and the systems are advanced as long as expectations are realized. If a system does not fulfill the expectations of people, then the system falls into a state of dysfunction. The result is a negative cycle in which people's expectations towards the system fall even further. A prominent example of this is the current pension problem in Japan.

In order to solve these kinds of problems, conventional political science and economics have analyzed the relationship between the behavior of each member and the system which governs the behavior. However, an area which has not been the focus of analysis is how the expectations of members are reflected in the system and what kind of result is created when those expectations are shared. In other words, no analysis has been performed regarding the role of expectations which link the system and the behavior of each member.

The goal of this institute is to analyze this role played by expectations and to clarify the conditions of an "expectation-realizing society", which is a society that provides more opportunities for people to realize their expectations.

Centered around both substantiated theory and normative theory

A methodological fusion of political science and economics was achieved through by "Constructing Open Political-Economic Systems" (GLOPE) institute, which was selected in 2003 as a 21st Century COE program of Waseda University. Using this as a base, the new institute for Political Economy of Institutional Construction seeks to achieve a theoretical fusion of both academic fields using the key concepts of "expectations" and "systems".

The first step in the method for achieving this goal is to construct substantiative system theory for the reciprocal relationship of expectations and systems by using mutual feedback from theory models and experience-based analysis tools (in particular, the political economy experiment developed by the 21st Century COE GLOPE and CASI, a large-scale public opinion poll which uses a computer). At the same time, the program will clarify criteria for assessing all the meanings of benefits brought to society by systems which avoid conflicts of interests between individuals and groups. The program then seeks to construct normative system theory by examining the foundation of validity for these criteria from the relationship with expectations which are shared in the form of standards.

To achieve this goal, we shall further strengthen and utilize the domestic and international academic network which was formed by the GLOPE institute.

Strengthening programs for the development of young researchers

In terms of the research process, it is the mission of this institute to develop not only specialized researchers, but also to develop professionals who practically apply "specialized knowledge".

We are creating an environment for the development of young researchers by forming a research community that overcomes the boundaries of individual fields through joint practice by the Waseda University Graduate School of Political Science and the Graduate School of Economics. Another aspect which contributes to the development of researchers is the fulfillment of an international educational and research network. This network enables the deployment of Japanese researchers to cooperating overseas institutions, and also allows the holding of international symposiums, workshops, and crossover seminars.

*Refer to the institute homepage (http://globalcoe-glope2.jp/) for details regarding the project.