Constructing and Understanding an Incident as a Social Problem: A Case Study of University Entrance Exam Cheating in Japan

Chihaya Kusayanagi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The recent work of Frances Chaput Waksler-The New Orleans Sniper: A Phenomenological Case Study of Constituting the Other-demonstrates, by close examination of the case of the New Orleans Sniper of 1973, how people constitute and unconstitute an "Other" in certain situations. This paper explores the process by which people constituted the Other in Japan in February of 2011 through the course of an incident that surprised Japanese people: university entrance exam cheating by use of the Internet question-and-answer bulletin board. I will further examine how the incident can be constructed as a social problem with the construction of a victim and a villain. For data, I use reports from newspapers with nationwide circulation and reports from news agencies present at the time of the event. I also cite additional data from Internet news sites. Although my research here is small and elementary and my analysis is sociological rather than phenomenological, it is inspired by Waksler's work. I will show how peoples' commonsense knowledge frames their understanding and construction of an event. This paper will show that Waksler's ideas about the New Orleans Sniper and her analysis of this case are applicable to another event in a different time at a different place: contemporary Japanese society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Mar


  • Commonsense
  • Constituting the Other
  • Constructing social problems
  • Constructionism
  • University Entrance Exam Cheating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy


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