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Volunteering in Japan and Germany: how moral citizenship strengthens society and the state.

1. Introduction

When Japan was struck by two major natural disasters in 1995 (Kobe earthquake) and 2011 (Tsunami and nuclear disaster in northern Japan) the central state and local governments were initially overwhelmed by the size and scale of the disaster. They could not and would not respond in a timely and speedy manner. It was the helping hands and spontaneous aid offered by many civilian volunteers that played a major role in providing relief to those in distress. The strength of civil society is its normative foundation, that is to say the individual motivations that drive people to act in a certain way going far beyond what the state wants or expects them to do. Yet what motivates citizens to act spontaneously and voluntarily for the public good without being paid and without pursuing private interests? What constitutes the public good, who defines it and how has it changed? These are the primary research questions that, when answered, explain the factors behind a state's civil society. The study will seek to provide evidence to support the argument that volunteering is not primarily shaped by the state or institutions but driven by agency based value changes and that these changes benefit both civil society and the state. It will complement the existing normative research done by Hasegawa, Aldrich and Haddad on the role of "social expectations" and "individual agency" for Japan and on the role of socio-cultural factors such as "moral vocation" or "civic virtues" by Max Weber for Germany.

The structure of the paper will reflect the logic of the argument. In the following section the comparison scope, methodology and definitions will be introduced. The third section the paper will present and discuss the scholarship on civil society in Japan and Germany and highlight some important differences between the two states. In the fourth section a historical typology of state-civil society relationships will help to conceptualize the position of the author. Empirical data supporting value changes and the renaissance of moral citizenship will be presented and discussed. It will be concluded that despite some legal and institutional disparities Japan and Germany present similar cases of new style volunteering rooted in individual agency, the quest for moral citizenship and personal principles.

2. Why Japan and Germany?

Japan and Germany have experienced a steady increase in mostly non-advocacy based volunteering over recent decades. In Germany the origins of civil society can be traced back to the Prussian welfare state while in Japan civil service is rooted in the public civil service duty under the Tokugawa regime. In the past, civil service was conceived as a state inspired duty and social obligation of citizens towards a paternalistic strong state. Public service served the purpose of top down social cohesion. Both countries went through a phase of totalitarian dictatorship by the military and both countries were late in building a nation state. After the war both countries became very strong export economies with a strong industrial base. The political culture of both countries presents similar traits as well. In this paper political culture will be defined as the attitudes and values of individuals towards the political system. It has been described as conservative, conform, orderly, subordinate, disciplined, subject oriented and obedient (Berg-Schlosser et al (1); Richardson (2)).

The historical phases of civil society development offer room for comparison. In both countries volunteering was initiated by the state and aimed at strengthening the social cohesion top down. The 19th century German term Ehrenamt (honorary office holder) designates an important social function with ties to officialdom whereas the Japanese term houshi (public service) describes service in the public interest. Today the more neutral terms of the German Freiwilligenarbeit (volunteer work) and Japanese borantia (from the English word "volunteer") describe a different style bottom-up volunteering. During the interwar years a loss of confidence in political institutions led to a vertical division of civil society. The mass organizations of the state absorbed civil society under totalitarian rule in the 1940s. After the war both states reorganized civil society under the premise: economic development, social welfare and affluence for all.

Another reason for comparing Japan and Germany lies in the Japanese willingness to learn from the German public service model and replicate elements of the German social welfare system and civil law. The Volunteer Welfare Commissioner system minseiin was modeled, for example, after a German program. The German cooperatives served as example for developing the Japanese cooperative union model in the Meiji era. Additionally, the German Civil Code served as example for the first Japanese Civil Code in the Meiji era.

Last but not least both countries are confronted with similar socio-economic challenges such as the rapid aging and low fertility of their respective populations which makes them an interesting comparative case. The reason for the significant presence of NPOs (Non profit organization)in the welfare, child and education spheres (Table 1) has to do with the socio-economic transformations that have taken place in both countries.

What do we compare?

This study will not deal with pure advocacy NPOs and public interest corporations such as interest federations (Verbaende in Germany; kyoukai in Japan), incorporated associations (shadan hojin) or foundations (Stiftung in Germany; Zaidan in Japan) for good reasons. Japanese public interest corporations are supervised by the state and are therefore not independent. There exist some 25,000 public interest corporations including Japan's largest and most established nonprofits. The two classifications in the category of public-interest corporations (koeki hojin) are incorporated foundations (zaidan hojin), and incorporated associations (shadan hojin). Japanese style shadan hojinsare not to be confused with German style NPO associations (Vereine) because although being formally nongovernmental and not for profit they are subject to tight state supervision and guidance. Some of the large shadan hojins such as the Tokushukaikai group, a medical business conglomerate, have an operating income of 3000 billion Yen and a fulltime paid staff of 23,000. The group operates hospitals, nursing care homes and owns even a quasi professional gymnastics club. The legal set up of the Tokushukai group is complex because it is active in many different areas. It even maintains cooperatives and established a small NPO branch within the huge group in 2005 in the area of international disaster relief.

Federations primarily defend the interests of their member associations or pursue lobbying activities to influence others and are therefore excluded from this study. The role of private company foundations and the question if the Toyota foundation in Japan or the Bertelsmann foundation in Germany are really pursuing selfless goals remains controversial. The paper does not take into account pure advocacy groups either. Advocacy is defined as the political lobbying for social or legal changes on behalf of a group of people. A typical advocacy group would be the German automobile drivers association, ADAC, one of the largest German NPOs with 16 million members. It is a body that represents the rights of car drivers and promotes the usage of automobiles in society. It has strong financial resources, a large legal team of lobbyists to defend its interests, many fulltime paid staff and a large organizational network. Even though it is a Verein (NPO) in legal terms, "it is not and has never been pursuing a public interest" (3) according to their CEO. Other advocacy groups such as foreigner's rights groups, environmental associations or peace and human rights groups play an important role but they form, statistically, only a small part of civil society in both Japan and Germany. For Germany it has been found that a mere 2.7% of the population volunteer for political or advocacy purposes, in Japan the advocacy level may even be much lower. One should also be aware that non-advocacy can be perceived as strength: for example some Japanese NGOs in Afghanistan such as the association 'Peshawar Kai' have gained a high reputation precisely because they do not engage in advocacy but in humanitarian groundwork. Compared to some of their Western counterparts they have maintained strict political neutrality.


To understand the differences and similarities between German associations and Japanese NPOs it will be necessary to compare the legal, sociological and normative features of civil society organizations in both countries. This study will seek to support the argument by presenting and discussing empirical data from Flanagan and Lee on value changes in Japan, similar data for Germany from the national social survey database ALLBUS as well as opinion survey results on volunteering.

Civil society: embracing vertical autonomy and horizontal cooperation

There seems to be general agreement among scholars that civil society has to be thought outside the realm of the private but at the same time also outside the realm of traditional state or market institutions. Trentmann has suggested that the logic of civil society is globally the same:
   Non-European debates on civil society engage with many of the
   problems and debates European societies had as well- the
   relationship between inclusiveness and exclusiveness, between
   plurality and order, between shared religious and cultural values
   and toleration, between self-governing associations and their
   relative dependence on states and markets (4)

A German definition, taken from the Federal Agency for Political Education webpage, stresses the desire for citizen's self-organization in the wider sphere of society:
   Civil society is a political and philosophical concept, which
   challenges both the tendency to self-centered individualism (as
   assumed for Western societies) as well as the complete
   politicization of all spheres of life (as practiced in the former
   socialist countries). The idea of civil society calls for a
   separation between the narrow, political-public sector and a wider,
   social-private sector, whereby the state-free space is nurtured and
   maintained by various forms of self-organization and
   self-government (through clubs, organizations, associations etc.)

A Japanese definition, taken from the Osaka volunteer center webpage, stresses the importance of cooperation and horizontal networking:
   Civil society values its citizens' independence and autonomy. It is
   a society in which various private organizations, like non-profit
   organizations, can increase their roles in society by being
   autonomous and collaborating with governments and corporations.
   It's not too much to say that such a society gives greater
   importance to horizontal networking rather than vertical hierarchy
   while maintaining individual responsibility (6).

The key words found in such definitions of civil society are independence, autonomy and self-organization. The German definition suggests that civil society offers a third way between selfish individualism and total control of the public sphere by the state.

NPOs and the public benefit status

The German definition for incorporated or unincorporated association (Verein) does not anticipate a public benefit clause. An association is a membership organization whose members have come together to permanently pursue a common purpose. The above definition does not stipulate that the purpose must serve the public good. Non-economic registered associations (in German "Idealvereine" however must have a primary aim and activity other than the conduct of business. They can but must not apply for public benefit status. Being recognized as public benefit organization allows for substantial tax benefits. Public benefit in Germany is defined as an activity that is either charity based or enhances public well-being.

In Japan NPOs must first give proof that they fall under one of the below public benefit categories before they can apply for registration. Furthermore, the public benefit status does not automatically lead to a preferential fiscal status as in Germany. Since 1998 more than 41,600 organizations have been granted NPO status. Even if legal recognition has been achieved, financial independence continues to be a problem. To maintain independence NPOs should ideally be independent from state funding or from corporate donations. To maintain daily operations NPOs rely on donations from private citizens and membership fees. The bureaucracy has the power and discretion to judge whether an NPO deserves tax exemption status. According to an Asahi newspaper editorial from January 3, 2009 only 90 NPOs have been able so far to obtain the tax exempt treatment allowing them to receive tax free donations that are vital to support their activities and remain independent from government funds and control. A law passed in June 2011 (which goes into effect in 2012) will simplify the process of gaining favorable tax status. Certification will be done by municipal authorities rather than the national tax agency.

A third difference is the fact that NPOs in Japan are not allowed to primarily pursue religious or political goals, whereas in Germany they are encouraged to support the "development of a democratic state building" and engage in religious activities (7). NPOs are required to demonstrate to the responsible government agency that they provide a public benefit in order to obtain legal personality. If the application has been correctly filed the local authorities must approve it. They cannot reject an application for personal reasons or by simply disagreeing with the aims of the NPO. The authorities may, however, dissolve an organization by revoking the initial authorization if they conclude that it no longer serves the public interest. Despite fears that the state might abuse his power, only a few NPOs have to date been stripped of their status. Among them are some dubious or even criminal organizations that have operated under the NPO status umbrella. Although NPOs are allowed to pursue political goals in Germany, state authorities keep an eye on anti-constitutional associations: more than ten rightwing associations have, for example, been disbanded in the recent past because their activities are believed to endanger the constitutional order.

It is important to note that the public good is not a category with fixed content but one that is subject to change by those who define it. In the past the public good in Japan was defined by bureaucrats, it was restricted to what was in the national interest and state dependent public interest corporations were entrusted with ensuring it. In the 1990s, though, it was reframed by politicians and civil society activists. The NPO law was drafted by politicians in conjunction with more than 3000 associations and not by the bureaucracy. It was unanimously passed as a bipartisan law and reflects the consensus of all parties. As a joint effort, it represents a willingness to allow for more citizen involvement in defining the public good. It was a negotiated process whose outcome depends on political culture, value preferences and attitudes of those involved. Citizens have increased public awareness and become active in areas neglected by the state and the market. Gender issues and empowerment of women, elderly and child care, protection of minors, food safety, special educational needs and vocational training, migrant needs, minority rights, mental health needs, natural disaster relief, fair trade, social injustice and unemployment, the challenges posed by the modern knowledge and information society, peace and war reconciliation, international grass root development projects have been of particular concern for NPOs.

The motivations, purposes and circumstances of volunteering have been subject to changes. First, civil society is less dependent on and influenced by institutions and structures compared to the past. Volunteers take greater personal responsibility and spontaneous action without asking first what the state can do for them or asking for state funding. Furthermore, public confidence in institutions such as the Church or the state has been decreasing. Second, the paper will discuss to what extent changing values account for volunteerism. Third, compared to old style state supervised, wealthy public interest corporations, the features of civil society organizations (NPOs) have changed. The volunteer himself has become the most important resource. This is especially true for Japan where most NPOs have no preferential tax status and depend almost entirely on the goodwill and enthusiasm of the volunteers. It is also believed that the vertical structure of NPOs is more egalitarian and autonomous compared to traditional hierarchical organizations and that NPOs enhance horizontal cooperation with a wide variety of actors such as national and local state institutions, private companies and even international bodies.

3. The state-civil society relationship from a theoretical perspective

Social scientists in Japan and Germany have shown a continuing interest in the civil society phenomenon. Questions such as what constitutes civil society? why it is either believed to be strong or weak? what sets it apart from the state? and whether it can be equated with democracy or not demand further exploration. The currently available scholarship on civil society in Japan proposes broadly two opposing models of state-civil society relations. The first assumes that civil society is opposed to the state and reacts in protest to state policies that are perceived to be unjust, harmful or threatening. The second assumes that the state bureaucracy is viewing civil society as an auxiliary and convenient tool for implementing state welfare policies in a cost effective way. In both cases the focus is on fixed, institutional patterns that are believed to govern state civil society relations.

Most studies argue that independent organizations are marginalized and face major state-imposed obstacles to conducting civic activity. Influential scholars who represent the "weak civil society-strong state" thesis for Japan include Pekkanen, Avenell and Ogawa. Drawing from the Western perspective, they postulate that civil society must be professional, have a strong sense of advocacy and be able to influence politics on a national institutional level. For them Japan is a good example of a state that seeks to regulate and tame a passive and weak civil society. Thus, Pekkanen has defined Japan as a civil society composed of "members without advocates". Accordingly one should distinguish between local political groups and interest groups on the national level in order to understand civil society. The state has encouraged the vertical formation of civil groups in neighborhoods, towns and villages but discouraged it at the national level. Japan, with strong ideas of vertical, top down state collectivism (i.e. family state, developmental state), strict corporate organization principles (i.e. the family style Japanese company) has many local organizations--neighborhood associations, volunteer firefighters, and PTAs--that have ties with officialdom in the tradition of the houshi compulsory public service system. As Neuman remarks,
   the Japanese state has for a long time restricted civil society to
   categories that could serve as auxiliaries to state functions-
   social services, private school foundations, medical organizations
   and religious institutions" (9).

Ogawa argues that the state's intention has been to create apolitical NPOs that replace state provision of social services, to cut costs in public administration. He asserts that the current situation, in which people are conveniently mobilized in the name of civil society for the neoliberal state, represents a "failure of civil society" (10). The state oversight for the creation and running of NPOs also ensures that NPOs remain apolitical. Ogawa warns that such an NPO sector limits dynamic social and political participation--a key component in democracy. Avenell has described the Japanese style civil society a "harmonious space for social capital initiatives by largely apolitical civil groups" (11).

At the other end are those scholars who view civil society as the antithesis to the cozy "Iron Triangle"--which describes the alliance of the bureaucracy, business sector and political parties--style of Japanese politics that has dominated public life for a long time. Broadbent, Chan, Hasegawa, Reimann and Kingston represent this spectrum. They subscribe to an activist vision of civil society which is essentially a collection of progressive social movements which are opposed to the neoliberal state and market. In their opinion the strength of civil society can be measured in terms of its ability to move the state. They argue that the root of recent social and political transformations lies in the power of civil society to either channel international norms towards domestic activities, to initiate progressive policies or oppose controversial public works projects or to promote institutional reforms and legal improvements.

The anti-state civil society perspective and the state led weak civil society approach have one thing in common: they both assert that civil society and the state are two distinct and separate institutional entities. Some scholars have tried to overcome the state/civil society antagonism perspective by proposing an alternative third way. Hasegawa, Waley, Aldrich and Haddad have questioned the institutional mechanism of "civil society versus state" in the Japanese context. Based on field research done on river embankment policies, anti-nuclear site protest activities and social welfare provisions the authors have concluded that a more differentiated approach is needed to explain how civil society is interwoven with the state on the central and local levels. A state-in-society approach conceptualizes the state as embedded in rather than independent of society. Local government officials may act in unison with local civil society representatives to influence state policies on the national level.

The German researcher Helmut Anheier, one of the leading international experts on civil society, has co-developed a theory to interpret the typology of various nonprofit welfare systems across borders. Anheier and Salamon's neo-institutional social origin theory is the only current theory that tries to explain the development of non-profit regimes cross-nationally (Salamon and Anheier (12)). In the so-called liberal regime, low government social welfare spending is associated with a relatively large nonprofit sector. At the opposite extreme is the social democratic regime. Here, the state has assumed the task of sheltering the working class against social risks so that little room is left for service-providing nonprofit organizations. Germany and Japan are classified on different scales: whereas Germany's nonprofit sector occupies a large size despite high government social welfare spending (corporatist model), Japan's nonprofit sector is of limited scale and government social welfare expenditures are relatively low (statist model). The theory is a descriptive classification of the way institutions have affected civil society in the past.

The social origins theory draws both from Marxian institutional, socio-structural variables and from the Weberian approach, acknowledging the independent role of socio-cultural factors such as religious elements. For the purpose of this study the work of the German sociologist Max Weber (13) is of particular importance for understanding the role of the modern self and individual agency in sustaining civil society. For Weber the cultivation of subjective values and virtues rooted in religious beliefs are critical for the survival of liberal democratic states. What he called Berufung--the moral vocation and purpose people attach to their professional lives--has a decisive impact on their level of participation in society. Civic virtues have their origins in the religious worldviews of the German protestant ascetism. Weber assumed that different religions produce different interpretations of the world and generate therefore also different attitudes and motivations. The rational-methodological protestant lifestyle was enhancing an active stance both in society and economics. In the process of secularization the protestant values and virtues have become self sustaining and have continued to influence modern behaviors without necessarily being rooted in religion anymore. This leads us to the main topic of interest: under what circumstances has civil society been constrained or enabled? To seek answers to this question it seems imperative to propose an operational framework that captures and clarifies the historically grown, interwoven connections between state and civil society in both countries.

4. Political culture, civil society and patterns of governance.

The next step will be to analyze the factors that explain the changing relationship between state and civil society and to answer the question: have changing patterns of government (institutions) been shaping civil society or has political culture (the rise of individual agency and moral citizenship) been incremental in the loss of confidence and public trust in institutions? Table 2 summarizes the interplay and interdependence of political culture, organizational patterns of governance and state of civil society. It is assumed that political culture and value changes have a critical influence on patterns of governance. As an example, the empirical findings on the authoritarian character by Fromm (14) for pre-Nazi Germany describe how undemocratic civic attitudes and traits contributed to institutional weakness and the vertical segmentation of society. The findings confirmed his thesis that German workers and employees showed signs of an "authoritarian-rebellious" personality responsible for the later triumph of Nazi ideology and the hatred against Jews. On the other side, the libertarian value paradigm of the 1960s suggests that--under changed life circumstances of affluence--new civic values of vertical autonomy and horizontal equality may emerge. However, Table 2 does not suggest that the influence of political culture is a one way process. Organizational principles may also influence and structure the value system. The ie household organizational principle for example introduced in early Meiji Japan responded well to the needs of the governing elite and the market. The state structured society along a strict vertical governance pattern of master-servant loyalty to boost industrialization and modernization.

Recent scholarship has brought attention to the transformative role the state has played in the evolution of civil society in Japan. According to Pharr, (15) states not only "enable" and limit but also give a boost to civil society through public policy and legislative initiatives. Pharr asserts that the state directs civil society towards the protest against the curtailment of basic human rights and against injustice. White has argued that the state may enable groups to form, but that does not automatically mean those specific organizations must be state-based institutions. (16)

The category of the "enabling state" offered earlier by Pharr constitutes the basis to further explore the interplay of political culture and institutional patterns of governance. In Meiji Japan the family state system has been shaping society by structuring social relations according to the private family ie principle. The invention and adoption of the ie household principle was an important step to contain social unrest and regulate social relations in the stages of rapid modernization and industrialization. According to Lehmbruch the Meiji rulers had not grasped the full meaning of the modern concept of "society" or " Gesellschaft". They instead adopted the antique, agrarian organizational ie principle to sustain rapid industrial modernization. The ie principle is not unique to Japan. In Europe the Greek oikos (household) used to be the "basic social structure of all peasant and peasant-nobility cultures" (17). It had been abandoned long ago to adjust to the changing circumstances of the emerging liberal capitalism. In Germany, Hegel's notion of "civil society or Gesellschaft conceived as a horizontal aggregation of autonomous individuals" (18) took precedence over the agrarian ie principle with its deeply vertical character of servant-master loyalty. Both principles had a deep impact on state-civil society relations and value patterns. In Japan society was restructured according to vertical hierarchical family principles, whereas German civil society in the 19th century responded to a horizontal association of free citizens. As Yamazaki has noted the ie principle produced ambiguous results: "individuation did not create true individuals". (19)

Political culture is not an independent variable but a process dependent phenomenon that may equally influence patterns of governance. To quote Haddad:
   Through their every day practices in civic organizations and
   interaction with the state, citizens contest, develop, and transmit
   new political values. As those values spread to elite leaders,
   those leaders take actions to change the configuration of political
   institutions. (20)

Opinion polls and empirical findings suggest that changed life circumstances can explain value changes. In 1971 it was hypothesised by Inglehart that intergenerational value changes were taking place all over the industrialized world. Inglehart postulated that many societies had been undergoing in the 1970s and 1980s "a transformation of individual values, switching from materialist values, emphasizing economic and physical security, to a new set of post-materialist values, which instead emphasized autonomy and self expression". (21) For Japan, Hasegawa has coined this new grassroot development as "social expectation". Social expectation is "an internalized social norm for society, which guides individuals and organizations to what they should do" (22). Building upon the political culture approach, the paper expands further by looking at the role of individual agency and how it has impacted civil society and the state.

From public duty to personal principle: empirical evidence for the renaissance of agent based moral citizenship

Data has shown that most volunteers are active in the areas of welfare, health, education, care for the elderly, children and young. Why is it that civil society focuses on those specific areas? Critics might want to argue that the neoliberal state has simply outsourced social services on the back of civil society organizations or that the activities of private nonprofits have led to a retrenchment of the social welfare state. This is however not an argument that convinces, for Germany at least, where more than two million citizens work as fulltime employees for civil society nonprofit organizations in the social sector alone, while at the same time the state continues to guarantee basic social welfare services. According to the OECD state spending as a percentage of national income for both states lies within the average OECD range of around 40%. It has actually increased for Japan since 1990. Interestingly, the once large gap between Japan and Germany in state spending has been narrowing down (Table 3).

It may come as a surprise that despite economic neo liberalization and an ideology of self enrichment and selfishness, selfless volunteering for the sake of others has remained stable over time. Surveys have also confirmed that volunteering is not subject to changes in the economy. Two major surveys have analyzed the phenomenon of modern volunteering in Germany. One has been commissioned by the insurance company AMB Generali Holding, the other by the Federal German Ministry of Health, Seniors, Women and Young. Despite differences in methodology and sampling both studies present similar findings. The percentage of volunteers in percent of total population has--only slightly--progressed from 34% in 1999 to 36% in 2009. This number suggests that civil society is not a mass phenomenon, as only roughly one third of the population is volunteering. Volunteering is a long term commitment: 32% of volunteers have been active for more than ten years. This also indicates that the number of volunteers has not grown dramatically but remained constant. Volunteers are most likely to belong to the middle age group. People who are successful in professional life are also more likely to take over responsibilities as volunteers than less affluent people. In both Germany and Japan volunteers belong to the upper middle class. They have a stable income, high education levels and enough free time to pursue volunteering activities. This typical modern volunteer profile has been confirmed for Japan by Takao. (23)

The major motivation that drives people to volunteer is the wish to "actively contribute to society on a small scale" and "socialize with other people" (Table 4). These findings suggest that personal values have taken precedence over public duty thinking: "Since the 1960s personal motivations to volunteer have gained more weight compared to traditional public duty motivations especially within the younger population" (24). This finding has been confirmed for Japan by Nakano. In contrast to the past, "the decision to volunteer is seen as an individual choice, a reflection of personal principles, rather than a function of bonds of duty or obligation" (25). The decision to volunteer is a personal choice that satisfies personal aspirations. Empirical evidence supports this view: volunteers wish to "enjoy the volunteering activity" and "help others" by contributing to the common wellbeing. The pursuit of personal interests, career advancement and public recognition are much less relevant for volunteering. The study has found that selflessness and working for the common wellbeing are positively correlated and concludes that there has been a renaissance of "a more traditional, morally demanding engagement pattern" in Germany (26).

For Japan comprehensive survey data pertaining to the reasons for setting up NPOs or volunteering remain scant. One recent empirical national study by the Zenkoku Shakai Fukushi Kyougikai (National Social Welfare Council) published in 2010 has identified "socializing with others", "engaging in a pleasant activity" and "creating social bonds with the local community" as primary drivers for volunteering (Figure 1). These factors are in line with the findings for Germany.

Personal values tell us why people want to volunteer, socialize or contribute to society. Why have conservative volunteering values such as loyalty to the authorities and public duty thinking been slowly and gradually displaced by liberal values such as autonomy, tolerance and self assertion? In the following section the findings of Flanagan and Lee for Asia and Japan and the opinion poll results of the major national German ALLBUS social national survey will be briefly presented and discussed

From authoritarian to libertarian value orientation

Flanagan and Lee have argued that significant value changes have been taking place in modern advanced societies. They have categorized these changes as libertarian versus authoritarian. Respondents classified as authoritarians prefer a society that puts more emphasis on respect for authority, maintaining order, teaching children obedience, and where it is best to follow one's superior's instructions regardless of their own opinions. Conversely, libertarians prefer a society that stressed freedom of speech, giving people more say in government, on the job, and in their communities; teaching children independence; and one in which the workplace affords the individual more opportunities for using his or her own initiative.

According to Flanagan and Lee,
   the A-L value change describes a shift from deference to authority
   to autonomy and self-assertiveness; from conformity to traditional
   social norms and suspicion of new ideas to open-mindedness and
   tolerance for a broader range of lifestyles and beliefs; and from a
   preoccupation with work and the basic necessities of life to a
   search for self-improvement, self-fulfillment, and self-indulgence.

Table 6 shows the A-L value changes with the libertarian item loadings being positive and the authoritarian items negative. The Japanese data show positive values for the items 'freedom of speech', 'giving people more say in important government decisions' with the negative item 'maintenance of order' being below countries such as the Philippines or Singapore. For Germany Table 5 shows that there has been a progress in percentage points for the libertarian items 'more say in government' and 'freedom of speech' within the time period from 1980 to 2006. On the other hand the negative item of 'maintain order' remains the most influential category among all three with 34 percentage points. Nevertheless it has substantially decreased from a peak 51 percentage points in 1982. Lee asserts that libertarians have more distrust in institutions and that this distrust is due to a "feeling of loss of autonomy in the face of large, faceless institutions" (28).


The article has argued that institutional state versus civil society patterns, regulatory frameworks alone and organizational structures are insufficient to explain a vibrant civil society. Political culture and personal values may hinder or nurture civil society significantly. A historical typology showed how changes in political culture have affected patterns of governance in both states. Survey data suggested a relative paradigm shift from authoritarian to libertarian values in both countries. Compared to the inherent hierarchical structures of old style public interest corporations, NPOs embrace vertical autonomy and horizontal cooperation as well as social networking with various actors. Moreover, NPOs have been able to get a say in defining what constitutes the public good and obtain tax reforms to secure their financial independence from the state. The paper discussed additional survey findings that support the thesis that current volunteers do not act out of public duty as in the past but are motivated by personal principles. It has also been revealed that volunteering is not primarily about pursuing ideological goals.

This contradicts claims that the strength of civil society lies in its ability for advocacy. Volunteers rather seek to "build a society on a small scale" by strengthening community bonds. This normative principle or civic virtue has been coined 'moral citizenship'. Whereas in the past the state defined the public good and legal means to ensure it, civil society has been empowered and enabled to raise public awareness for neglected issues and engage in more informal participation channels such as grassroots activism or self-help. It has been shown that both the society and the state have been strengthened: the legitimacy of the democratic state has benefited from increased public awareness and citizens' participation. Social community ties and human bonds have been strengthened by citizens willing to contribute to the common well-being and public good.

The present article has reevaluated the normative and subjective foundations of civil society research. It has offered an alternative theoretical moral citizenship volunteering concept which--in line with Max Weber's thinking--is believed to be a civic virtue. It has helped to clarify and reinforce the argument brought forth by Hasegawa, who has asserted that "social expectations" are the key drivers for modern volunteering. It has thereby stressed the importance of personal choices, value preferences and individual motivations for volunteering. The study has furthermore shown that advocacy is not the main concern of volunteers in Germany and Japan.

Future research will likely look more into factors that explore the underlying subjective motivations and belief systems of contemporary volunteers. Another avenue for future research will be the interplay between values and patterns of governance. How do they influence each other? How and to what extent do value preferences contribute to the shift in civil society's relationship with the state? This article has also made it clear that advocacy based volunteering may reflect the Western civil society model but not necessarily the German or Japanese cases. This study has shown that it will be of interest to further explore the non-ideological roots of volunteering and question certain pre established assumptions and ideas about the need for advocacy in a mature civil society.


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Patrick Hein

FPC Japan

(1) Dirk Berg-Schlosser and Ralf Rytlewski, Political culture in Germany (Palgrave Macmillan,1993).

(2) Bradley M. Richardson, The political culture of Japan (University of California Press, 1975).

(3) Die Welt online edition, 28.06.2001, available at welt/article459779/ADAC_will_Leistungen_ausbauen.html, accessed on July 1, 2011.

(4) Frank Trentmann et al, Civil Society : A Reader in History, Theory, and Global Politics( Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 21.

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(6) Osaka Volunteer Center homepage, available at:, last accessed on June 30, 2011..

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(11) Simon A. Avenell, Civil society and the new civic movements in contemporary Japan: Convergence, colaboration, and transformation,The Journal of Japanese Studies, Volume 35, Number 2, Summer 2009, 282.

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(13) Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssoziologie (English: Collected essays on the sociology of religions), Stuttgart: UTB, 1988.

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(18) Ibid., 65

(19) Masakazu,Yamazaki, Individualism and the Japanese (Tokyo: Japan Echo Inc., 1994), 97.

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(21) Article on post-materialism, available at

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(24) Federal German Ministry of Health, Seniors, Women and Young, Hauptbericht des Freiwiiligensurveys 2009 (English: Main report on the national volunteering survey 2009) (Muenchen, Germany, 2010), 15.

(25) Lynne Y. Nakano, Community volunteers in Japan: everyday stories of social change, (London: Routledge, 2004), 14.

(26) Federal German Ministry of Health, Seniors, Women and Young, Hauptbericht des Freiwiiligensurveys 2009 (English: Main report on the national volunteering survey 2009) (Muenchen, Germany, 2010), 124.

(27) Scott C. Flanagan, & Aie-Rie Lee, Value change and democratic reform in Japan and Korea, Comparative Political Studies, 33(5), 2000, 635.

(28) Aie-Rie Lee, Issues, Value Cleavages, and Political Change in East Asia (Center for the Study of Democracy, UC Irvine, 2006) available at, 12.
Table 1: Most important areas of nonprofit education

          Most important    Second         Third

Germany   Sports, fitness   Children and   Church and
          and wellness      Youth          religion

Japan     Health and        Education      Child wellbeing,
          Welfare                          health and child

Sources: AMB Generali Holding AG 2009.

Table 2: Typology of state-civil society interaction in
Japan and Germany

               Role and identity
               of the state                 Status of civil society

Totalitarian   State absorbs civil          Weak confidence in
state          society (Nazi Germany,       democratic public
               Japan 19251945)              institutions. Mobilization
                                            in state led mass
                                            organizations. Vertical
                                            pillarization and
                                            segmentation of society.

Regulating/    State acts as neutral        Civil society focus on
guarantor      mediator and delegates       economic wellbeing and
state          social welfare tasks to      affluence for all. Strong
               wealthy citizens, public     confidence and public
               corporations or the Church   trust in institutions.
               (Ehrenamtin 19th century     High social welfare state
               absolutist Prussia,          spending. Political
               Houshiin the Tokugawa era,   parties and labor unions
               Neo-corporatist after-war    with large membership
               Germany, Japan 1945-1998)    base.

Enabling       State draws its legitimacy   Civil society is self
state          from "strong" civil          driven. Influence of
               society. State creates       traditional advocacy
               frameworks for functioning   organizations (parties,
               civil society.               unions) and traditional
                                            civil society groups
                                            (PTAs, neighborhood
                                            associations) decreases.
                                            Public trust in
                                            institutions decreases.

               Political culture and values

Totalitarian   Dominance of the "authoritarian
state          personality" (Erich Fromm)
               described in terms of prejudice,
               conformity, extreme obedience to
               authority, ethnocentrism and

Regulating/    Driver for public service is deep
guarantor      sense of duty and loyalty towards
state          the state. "What can the state do
               for me" attitude.

Enabling       Appearance of new libertarian
state          values such as selflessness,
               autonomy, or self-expression.
               "What can I do for society"

Table 3: State spending in percent of national income

Year      1990   1995   2000   2005   2006   2007   2008

Japan     31.9   36.5    39    38.4    36    35.8   36.4
Germany   44.5   54.8   45.1   46.9   45.3   43.8   43.4

Source: OECD Economic Outlook 2008, 84.

Table 4: Personal motivations for volunteering

To build society on a small scale           29,6%
To come together with other people          25,9%
Volunteering is an important social task    23,7%
To represent interests and solve problems   17,8%
No selection                                3,0%

Source: AMB Generali Holding AG. 2009.

Table 5: Materialistic and Post materialistic attitudes
in West Germany from 1980 to 2006 (in percent)

         Materialistic goals       Post-materialistic goals

Values   Law and   Fight against   More say in   Protect freedom of
         order     inflation       government    speech

1980     48        22              16            15
1982     51        19              16            14
1984     39        18              24            19
1986     46        8               26            21
1988     42        9               24            25
1990     37        8               34            22
1992     37        14              31            19
1994     41        9               34            17
1996     40        7               31            23
1998     42        12              27            20
2000     39        7               36            19
2002     31        15              31            23
2004     32        15              37            17
2006     34        16              33            18

Source: ALLBUS German National Social Survey Database 2011.

Table 6: Authoritarian and libertarian value changes in Japan and Asia

                    Japan   Singapore   Korea   Philippines   Indonesia


Respect for         -.343   -.274       -.204   -.0.92        -.226

Maintain order      -.666   -.775       -.555   -.842         -.213

Teach child         -.175   -.234       -.443   -.056         -.709

Follow superior     -.233   -.126       -.277   -.279         -.156

God is important    -.377   -.235       -.334   -.078         -.040

Must love parents   -.347   -.278       -.248   -.141         -.179


Protect freedom     .354    .531        .379    .488          .260
of speech

More say in         .666    .635        .521    .658          -.120

Teach               .385    .283        .433    .108          -.647

Prefer useful job   .198    .041        .296    -.061         -.042

Parents right to    .226    .421        .481    .073          .399
own life

Self-interest       .082    .295        .094    .124          .305
over common good

N of Cases          1157    1477        1197    1191          940

Average Loading     .337    .344        .355    .230          .107

Source: Aie-Rie 2011.

Figure 1: Reasons for welfare volunteering in Japan

Reasons for volunteering (in percent)

pleasant activity               31%
socialize with people         36.3%
social community bonds        31.1%
et enlarged view of society   23.9%

Source: Zenkoku Shakai Fukushi Kyougikai, Zenkoku BBorantia Katsudou
Jitai Chousa Houkokushou 2011.

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Date:Dec 1, 2011
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