The Vanishing 'Mass Education Society'

Ryoji Matsuoka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


With a nationally standardised compulsory education system and the rapid expansion of upper secondary education, Japan was once characterised as a 'mass education society' with nationwide educational zeal. However, recent literature points to regional disparities in value orientations in the field of education, while no study has provided an empirical assessment of changes in regional disparities with comparable data collected during different periods. Thus, this study aims to investigate whether attitudes towards education became more divided between regions from the 1990s to the 2010s by using several waves of two nationally representative social surveys (SSM and SSP). Furthermore, by applying multilevel modelling to the SSP 2015 survey, this study clarifies how individuals' places of residence relate to their attitudes towards education. The results indicate that regional disparities in people's attitudes towards education emerged between the 1990s and 2010s. Moreover, disparities in cultural capital associated with socio-economic status partly explain the attitude gaps not only among individuals but also among neighbourhoods. Overall, this study's empirical investigations validate the emerging regional disparities, indicating the collapse of the mass education society, and a differentiation mechanism based on socio-economic disparities between neighbourhoods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-84
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 9


  • Japan
  • multilevel modelling
  • neighbourhood
  • regional disparities
  • social stratification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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