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Seinen-Kouken no Shakai-gaku (The Sociology of Adult Guardianship)




336 pages, A5 format




February, 2020



Published by

Keiso Shobo

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Seinen-Kouken no Shakai-gaku

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I have always been intrigued by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ research about life and death. Her research not only highlights the process of dying but also how we live life. My interest in the research area of life and death has played a role in me choosing “adult guardianship” as the subject of my research. This book is a compilation of my master's and doctoral research on adult guardianship.
There is a dearth of research on adult guardianship in the field of sociology, because of which I was unsure of the approach to take toward this topic in the inception stage of my research. Consequently, I began by asking the following two questions: “Where exactly is the adult guardianship system needed in society?” and “Who actually wants to use this system?”, and through trial and error, I gained a better understanding of these issues. The first area that I investigated was life insurance companies. I attempted to explain the possibility of a rise in adult guardianship as a necessity, in the field of insurance claims (Chapter 4, Section 1). Similarly, I investigated regional financial institutions such as credit unions, and real estate transactions in order to confirm the rationale.
The next issue at hand was how to answer the following question: “What theoretical contribution would this study make to the field of sociology as a whole?” To answer this question, I argued that this research would contribute toward the expansion of the “socialization theory” related to long-term care, using adult guardianship socialization as a keyword. In other words, theories related to the “socialization of adult guardianship” discussed by civil law scholars (Chapter 2, Section 1) were organized and how these theories are indeed an extension of long-term care socialization theory was shown (Chapter 2, Section 2). In this way, it was illustrated that discussing adult guardianship socialization naturally complements long-term care socialization theory (Chapter 2, Section 3). Thus, it highlights the importance of discussion of adult guardianship in the field of sociology.
More specifically, discussions surrounding persons who bear responsibility and the socialization of expenses, which have been segmented in previous researches on long-term care socialization, were analyzed by applying these ideas to adult guardianship (Chapter 3, Sections 1 and 2). Through this work, it was discovered that, even under the umbrella term of “socialization,” there are various phenomena caused by the use of the system and difficulties that come with an increase in the prevalence of adult guardianship system that impacts the lives of citizens, which cannot be expressed using the existing long-term-care socialization framework. It was necessary to separate the term “adult guardianship socialization” from the existing context and use it more freely according to my needs as a researcher.
For example, although institutional adult guardianship advocates the idea of socialization, the truth is that it is a type of socialization that is unevenly distributed among professionals such as lawyers (Chapter 4, Section 2). Additionally, it was argued that, while it seemed like socialization was achieved, it unexpectedly forced individual households to take this responsibility on as part of their familial budget management, imposing an unexpected management burden on their families (Chapter 4, Section 3). These discussions are positioned as research in the field of family sociology.
Further, this book also contains elements of welfare sociology research, which discusses to what extent guardian support could be expected (Chapter 5, Section 1) and the risk that comes from using this system, which could have a serious impact on the user’s living situations (Chapter 5, Section 2). While keeping in mind that a mechanism that supports an ideal form of adult guardianship may be possible, realization of individual decision-making, property management, physical custody (personal guardianship), and livelihood support under the influence of community values was presented here as the ideal type of socialization (Chapter 5, Section 3), through case studies on co-ops.
As described above, this book is a survey-based sociological reconstruction of the legal concept of “adult guardianship,” that focuses on various phenomena that appear through the use of the adult guardianship system. Findings such as the importance of setting up a forum for discussing physical custody (personal guardianship), knowing the whereabouts of the individual and keeping the best interest of the individual in mind from multiple perspectives in addition to recognizing that substantial involvement of non-expert actors is an important aspect of the socialization of adult guardianship are positioned as knowledge related to the fields of family and welfare sociology. In this way, I have devised an original way of conceptualizing socialization as it applies to the way adult guardianship socialization is utilized. In this respect, there is an element of academic novelty in this book that is not found in existing research.
Lastly, returning to the concerns presented at the beginning, this book outlines research that explores the way community should support the process of living one's last days in a place where one has grown accustomed to, as well as the type of community support that is ideal during this process. This is an ongoing research and I am currently exploring the way various communities associated with traditional religions such as Christianity and Buddhism as well as local citizen guardianship non-profit organizations deal with issues of life, death, and aging through the system of adult guardianship.

(Written by SAISHO Shinya, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology / 2022)

Related Info

Selected for the 2022 Support for Overseas Publication program  (Suntory Foundation  April 2023)
The 2nd Japan Society of Family Sociology Encouragement Book Award  (Sep. 2021)
The 6th Japan Welfare Sociology Association Encouragement Book Award  (July 2021)
2000 Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Welfare Foundation Encouragement Award (Senior Citizen Welfare deivision)  (Nov. 2021)
Chinese Version:
“成年监护社会学” published by World Affairs Press Co., Ltd, Beijing in Feb. 22, 2024

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