It has been quite rare to have a serious dialogue between scholars doing practical studies on social development & assistances and theoretical studies on institutional designs & norms, while they share core research interests on individuals’ well-beings under various risks and adversities. In this joint project with HIAS and IPSP, we would like to focus on interaction between “reciprocity” and “publicness,” with a perspective of integrating knowledge of social sciences. They are crucial aspects in both social development & assistance and institutional design & norms.

For example, the Great Tohoku Earthquake on March 11th, 2011, triggered an unprecedented attention to the ‘reciprocal’ relationship such as bonds, connections and supports among residents including those with severe sufferings and disadvantages. Another social concern is the official introduction in 2022 of the Public Studies (on public spirits), to the national high school curriculum. However, the relation between these two is far from obvious. There is a risk of increased reciprocity diminishing the role of the public, or of the expanding public eroding reciprocity in local contexts. On what conditions can they complement each other? How do they relate to individual freedom, responsibility and capabilities? These are indeed underlying problems based on which we have to reexamine the conception of the welfare state.

This project will be a fruitful occasion for public discussion to critically reexamine social progress and provide a vision toward future.