A cover with colorful dot elements


Tojisha Kenkyu (Self-Directed Research - Discovery and Recovery of the Life-sized Self)


270 pages, 127x188mm, hardcover




July 15, 2020



Published by

Iwanami Shoten

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Tojisha Kenkyu

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The author is a pediatrician and researcher with cerebral palsy who uses a motorized wheelchair to get around. In the 1970s when the author was born, it was believed that the best thing for children with disabilities was early detection and intensive medical care to bring their abilities closer to those of “normal” children. Starting from a very young age, the author also endured painful training lasting six hours a day, but in end, never came close to being a “normal” child.
However, the world’s thinking about disability changed dramatically in the 1980s. In the past, disabilities were considered a characteristic of the bodies and minds (including mental and cognitive functions) of individuals. The new way of thinking rejects this view and, instead, posits that disabilities are caused by mismatches between the mental and physical characteristics of a minority of individuals and the social environment tailored to the majority. Today, the former way of thinking is referred to as the “individual model” while the latter is referred to as the “social model.”
Buildings, tools, and institutions are not the only things designed for the majority. Language is also tailored to the majority. As a result, some individuals experience isolation because the language used to express their experiences and needs does not exist in the mainstream. The philosopher Miranda Fricker coined the term “hermeneutical injustice” to refer to unfairness resulting from the fact that language is tailored to the majority. This book introduces various examples of tojisha research (self-directed research) conducted since 2001 by tojisha facing difficult-to-describe hardships as a method to investigate the theory and language needed to express such hardships and to take on “hermeneutical injustice.”
The social model also spread through the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tojisha community starting in the 1990s in the form of the neurodiversity movement (NDM). Neurodiversity advocates argue that neurological differences such as ASD should be recognized and respected as a social category in the same manner as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, without coercion or compulsion to conform to the majority.
This book discusses the history, theory, significance, and practice of tojisha research as well as collaboration with experts in diverse fields using examples of tojisha research conducted by the authors since 2007 to investigate ASD from the standpoint of the tojisha in the context of the social model. It is our hope that this book will be read by individuals who have heard of and are interested in tojisha research but unsure of what it entails as well as individuals who are interested in correcting hermeneutical injustice and ASD research in the age of neurodiversity.

(Written by KUMAGAYA Shinichiro, Associate Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Disability Services Office / 2023)

Related Info

Author’s interviews
Becoming an expert to study, overcome your own problems|UTOKYO VOICES 096  (The University of Tokyo  Feb 3, 2021)
Understanding, partnership cultivate barrier-free culture | Diversity and UTokyo 04 | Associate Professor Shinichiro Kumagaya  (The University of Tokyo  Dec. 9, 2021)

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