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Japan

International and Area Studies

Division II Faculty Publications

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From Undemocratic To Democratic Civil Society: Japan's Volunteer Fire Departments, Mary Alice Haddad Feb 2010

From Undemocratic To Democratic Civil Society: Japan's Volunteer Fire Departments, Mary Alice Haddad

Division II Faculty Publications

How do undemocratic civic organizations become compatible with democratic civil society? How do local organizations merge older patriarchal, hierarchical values and practices with newer more egalitarian, democratic ones? This article tells the story of how volunteer fire departments have done this in Japan. Their transformation from centralized war instrument of an authoritarian regime to local community safety organization of a full-fledged democracy did not happen overnight. A slow process of demographic and value changes helped the organization adjust to more democratic social values and practices. The way in which this organization made the transition offers important lessons for emerging democracies ...