Meritocracy, Modernity, and the Completion of Catch-Up: Problems and Paradoxes

  • Takehiko KariyaEmail author
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 46)


Japan is among just a few non-western countries to have experienced both “catch-up” (with the west) and what might be called a “post-catch-up modernization.” Undergoing these two stages of distinct social transformation, Japanese society has encountered difficulties in making a smooth transition from catch-up to post-catch-up modernity. This is particularly clear in the field of education. In this chapter, I place these Japanese experiences in a global context and discuss what implications they have for sociological research on education as well as what theoretical contributions such a lens can contribute to recent debates on modernity across the social sciences. I argue that the Japanese mind-set built up over the catch-up modernization period later greatly impacted the ways problems were socially constructed in education during the transition to the post-catch-up stage. It unexpectedly produced paradoxical results of successful catch-up modernization: an unintentional slide into failure in the envisaged transition toward post-catch-up modernity. Through analyzing these experiences, this chapter will explicate and theorize a mechanism in which how misrecognition and misguidance are generated within the transition from catch-up to post-catch-up modernity.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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