"Charisma" in Japan – Historical and Sociological Explorations into the Relationship Between Leaders and Followers

  Oda Nobunaga 織田 信長 (1534-1582)

Oda Nobunaga 織田 信長 (1534-1582)

In his sociology of domination, especially in the chapters on charisma, Max Weber often mentioned cases in Japanese history to prove or illustrate his theory. The sociologist Nakane Chie, however, emphasized that the concept of "charisma" was a useless one for a proper analysis of Japanese society. In Japan, she argued, social relationships are based on personal contacts. Therefore charismatic leadership is possible only in close social environments. How do we explain these contradicting views? The project explores a whole set of various forms of charismatic leadership in Japanese history and society over a long period of time, reaching from the military leadership of Tenmu Tennō in the late 7th century, to wandering Buddhist monks in the middle ages and new religious movements in 20th century Japan.