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Title: The discourse on suicide in postwar Japan
Author: Di Marco, Francesca
ISNI:       0000 0004 2690 9722
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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The topic of this research is the study of the discourse on suicide in postwar Japan. The purpose is to investigate the process of the formation of the image of suicide throughout the postwar period in non-fictional media, and in particular in newspaper coverage, suicide how-to manuals and suicide websites. This thesis covers the whole post-war period, from 1946 to 2008, focusing particularly on the 1990s when there was a rapid growth of Internet associations, suicide pacts, and web suicide groups. At the same time, suicide has become a much-reported topic in the mass media. The result of these new trends has been a striking increase in suicide clusters, in new methods of suicide, as well as the emergence of new dynamics such as group suicide and suicide communities. Most existing research, despite a variety of theoretical approaches, has analysed suicide largely as an unchanging expression of traditional Japanese values. By contrast, I highlight the evolution of the media discourse in representing and narrating the act of suicide and its motivations, unveiling the conditions under which the historical appearance of suicide is formed, reinterpreted and reinvented. Finally, I explore the recent growth of suicide manuals, websites, and chatrooms, in order to understand the extent to which this contributes both to new patterns and recurrent anxiety. This research seeks to use this analysis to explore a number of characteristics of and hypotheses about postwar Japan, including: the extent to which the fragmentation of postwar society, experienced in contrast to imagined prewar homogeneity, has led to a search for affiliation with what have been called 'sub-tribes'; the extent to which the individual does indeed model his or her behaviour on that of the 'sub-tribe' as a reference group; the way in which the lack of legitimized patterns, in the aftermath of defeat, has driven the reinterpretation and reinvention of new suicide 'rites'; and finally the extent to which the discourse on suicide is reflected in the controversial periodization of postwar Japan.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available