Journal section "Foreign experience"

Social Movements as Networks of Meanings: Constructing a Mental Map of the 2012 Antinuclear Movement Campaign in Japan

Nomiya D., Sugino I., Murase R.

Volume 12, Issue 5, 2019

Nomiya D., Sugino I., Murase R. Social movements as networks of meanings: constructing a mental map of the 2012 antinuclear movement campaign in Japan. Economic and Social Changes: Facts, Trends, Forecast, 2019, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 158–174. DOI: 10.15838/esc.2019.5.65.11

DOI: 10.15838/esc.2019.5.65.11

Abstract   |   Authors   |   References
Social movement is a battlefield of meanings; a movement campaign contains a cluster of diverse meanings given by those participating in the campaign. Stimulated by such theoretical concepts as “network of meanings”, scholars have attempted to seize the collective meaning attribution process and resultant meaning clusters, as well as central/dominant and peripheral meanings in social movement campaigns. However, such a meaning cluster in the actual movement campaign has never been captured to date. This paper is an attempt to draw what we call “mental map,” mapping a cluster of meanings the movement campaign accommodates. Employing network analysis technique, we draw a network graph showing a cluster of meanings present in the movement campaign. We used the 2012 anti-nuclear movement campaign in Japan as a research site where we collected empirical data. The analysis of the 2012 network graph clearly showed central meanings considered to dominate the signification process of the 2012 campaign and a cluster of meanings that constituted a subset in the entire web of meanings. To ensure the capability of our research technique to differentiate meaning clusters from one movement campaign to another, we compared the 2012 campaign against the 1954 campaign. The differences were stark: the 2012 campaign was strongly driven by motherhood mentality to protect children and a concern over local environments, while the 1954 campaign dominantly drew its signification from collective memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and risk on food safety. The mental map approach can help us understand “why” of the movement campaign from yet another perspective; it can also assist us in understanding the change in the mentality and meaning attribution processes of social movements, as, given the data exist, it can be applied to the past campaigns


network analysis, mental map, social movement, social movement campaign, meaning, network of meanings, Japan

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