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Risk, ritual and health responsibilisation: Japan’s ‘safety blanket’ of surgical face mask-wearing

Burgess, Adam, Horii, Mitsutoshi (2012) Risk, ritual and health responsibilisation: Japan’s ‘safety blanket’ of surgical face mask-wearing. Sociology of Health & Illness, 34 (8). pp. 1184-1198. ISSN 0141-9889. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01466.x) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01466.x

Abstract

This article begins to develop an understanding of surgical mask-wearing in Japan, now a routine practice against a range of health threats. Their usage and associated meanings are explored through surveys conducted in Tokyo with both mask wearers and non-mask wearers. It contests commonly held cultural views of the practice as a fixed and distinctively Japanese collective courtesy to others. A historical analysis suggests that an originally collective, targeted and science-based response to public health threats has dispersed into a generalised practice lacking a clear end or purpose. Developed as part of the biomedical response to the Spanish flu of 1919, the practice resonated with folk assumptions as making a barrier between purity and pollution. But mask-wearing became socially embedded as a general protective practice only from the 1990s through a combination of commercial, corporate and political pressures that responsibilised individual health protection. These developments are usefully understood amidst the uncertainty created by Japan’s ‘second modernity’ and the fracturing of her post-war order. Mask-wearing is only one form of a wider culture of risk; a self-protective risk ritual rather than a selfless collective practice.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2012.01466.x
Uncontrolled keywords: surgical masks; risk; ritual; Japan; responsibilisation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2013 13:47 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 10:19 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/34393 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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