In modern capitalist societies such as Japan it is the school according to

In modern capitalist societies such as japan it is

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In modern capitalist societies such as Japan, it is the school, according to Althusser, which as- sumes the primary role of ideological state appara- tus. A greater segment of the population spends longer hours and more years here than in previous historical periods. Also educationhas now taken over from other institutions, such as religion, the pedagogical function of being the major shaper and inculcator of knowledge for the society. Concur- rently, as Althusser has pointed out for capitalist modernism (1971: 152, 156), there is the gradual replacement of repression by ideology as the prime mechanism for behaviorenforcement. Influenced less by the threat of force and more by the devices that present and inform us of the world we live in and the subjectivities that world demands, knowl- edge and ideology become fused, and education emerges as the apparatus for pedagogical and ideo- logical indoctrination. In practice, as school teaches children how and what to think, it also shapes them for the roles and positions they will later assume as adult members of the society. How the social order is organized through vectors of gender, power, labor, and/or class, in other words, is not only as important a les- son as the basics of reading and writing, but is transmitted through and embedded in those class- room lessons. Knowledge thus is not only socially constructed, but also differentially acquired accord- ing to who one is or will be in the political society one will enterin later years. What precisely society requires in the way of workers, citizens, and par- ents will be the condition determining or influenc- ing instruction in the schools. This latter equation, of course, depends on two factors: 1) the convergence or divergence of differ- ent interests in what is desired as subjectivities, and 2) the power any particular interest, including that of the state, has in exerting its desiresfor subjects on or through the system of education. In the case of Japan, the state wields enormous control over the systematization of education. Through its Min- istry of Education (Monbushu), one of the most powerful and influential ministries in the govern- ment, education is centralized and managed by a state bureaucracy that regulates almost every as: pect of the educational process. On any given day, for example, what is taught in every publicschool follows the same curriculum, adheres to the same structure, and is informed by textbooks from the This content downloaded from on Fri, 14 Feb 2014 02:28:12 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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JAPANESE MOTHERS AND OBENTOS 199 prescribed list. Teachers are nationally screened, school boards uniformly appointed (rather than elected), and students institutionally exhorted to obey teachers given their legal authority, for exam- ple, to write secret reports (naishinsho), that may obstruct a student's entrance into high school.4 The role of the state in Japanese education is not limited, however, to such extensive but codified authorities granted to the Ministry of Education.
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