Possibility of "literature" in sociology

Masato Hase*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sociology can be both a science and literature. While sociology as science investigates general tendencies of social phenomena through statistical analysis and advances social policies based on the understanding of their objective causes, sociology as literature focuses on the non-generalizable aspects of an individual event and considers the reasons for the resulting actions of human beings. In this article I examine prominent works in the sociology of literature by three representative Japanese sociologists, Sosuke Mita, Keiichi Sakuta and Shun Inoue, from the 1970s to the early 1980s. After this period, contemporary French philosophy, such as that of Foucault, introduced to Japan during the 1980s, made it clear that literature is nothing more than a social institution that produces interiority in individuals. As a result, sociology as discourse has dominated the intellectual scene in Japan ever since, eclipsing the possibility of sociology as literature, which focuses more on the romantic individual. However, I argue that an alternative possibility for sociology as literature can be found in a sociology of singularity, which grasps the concrete facticity of human activities in ordinary everyday life through reading their descriptions in works of literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-45
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Japanese Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Mar


  • Sociology as discourse
  • Sociology as literature
  • Sociology of singularity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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