IC² Institute supports research on demographic change and entrepreneurialism in rural Japan

IC² researcher John W. Traphagan recently published an article entitled “Empty Houses, Abandoned Graves: Negative Population Growth and New Ideas in Neo-rural Japan,” which is part of his ongoing research related to rural entrepreneurialism in northern Japan.

The article explores some of the ways in which individuals living in a depopulating environment have created innovative responses to a rapidly changing demographic climate. Specifically, the article looks at examples of religious entrepreneurialism and, when faced with significant depopulation, the approaches some social institutions such as Buddhist temples have taken to maintain parishioners and how these approaches can change religious practices. Traphagan also considers how demographic change in the form of negative population growth can stimulate a generative process in which people innovate and adapt institutions to take on new forms and practices that contribute to the emergence of new cultural patterns.

As part of the same IC²-supported project, Traphagan has also published an article entitled “Entrepreneurs in Rural Japan: Gender, Blockage, and the Pursuit of Existential Meaning” in the journal Asian Anthropology (2017), that explores rural entrepreneurialism as it relates to the desire among business owners to find existential meaning in life.

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Ema or votive tablets. Photo by John W. Traphagan
Ema, or votive tablets. Photo by John W. Traphagan

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