From 'Old Public' to 'New Public' Local Organizations from Historical Perspective


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  • 「古い公共」から「新しい公共」へ : 歴史的視点からみる地域団体(小特集に寄せて,<小特集1>地域における「新しい公共」の担い手-長野県からの報告)


There are many discussions about what is new for the 'new public', and what is the difference between the 'old public' and the 'new public'. This issue can be examined through historical study on local organizations and their relations with the government. Here the transition of the local organizations is discussed from a historical perspective, including comparison with Germany. This article argues that neighborhood associations based in everyday needs developed in the early 20th century in Japan, and were also authorized by local governments. These various neighborhood associations are what are now referred to as 'old public'. These societies have maintained strong relations in local communities, but nowadays they are getting weaker because their members are aging and younger generations have left local communities. This trend has brought about a crisis consciousness and made necessary a reaction from the government, which has led to the concept of 'new public'. NPOs were expected to bear the burdens of the 'new public', but they were not part of the old neighborhood associations, and thus could not win the trust of local people or attain a stable financial basis. They looked like new, untrustworthy organizations of strangers, with little authority. In spite of these limitations, the new organizations will be more urgently needed as the 'old' organizations will lose their basic functions in the near future. This could be a big historical challenge for Japan, which lacks experience of the development of local voluntary societies, in comparison with, for example, Germany, where voluntary society (Verein) movements from the early 20th century have continued to function actively in contemporary NPO activities.



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