Kokichi Shimizu, Osaka University
I was 19 years old when I first learned about educational sociology. As the first person in my family to attend college, I found the study of educational sociology extremely fascinating. It vividly described my roots and paths. I felt a strong urge to learn more. I can certainty state that without educational sociology, my career as an academic and my life, as I know it today, would not have been possible. That is how important this study is to me.
The President is to be elected by 50 or more board members. When I was informed by former President Aya Yoshida that I had been elected, the unexpected news surprised me but I immediately responded that I would gladly accept the position. I believed that it would be a great opportunity to give back to educational sociology, albeit only slightly. The 73rd conference was hosted (entirely online) by Kwansei Gakuin University in the fall of 2021. The activities of an academic society are like a never-ending relay race. I am the 19th President (runner), and it is my duty to successfully pass the baton to the next President in two years.
The greatest challenge for me and other members of the secretariat who will engage in the management of the Society this year is to smoothly proceed with its incorporation. We have set a goal of transitioning to a general incorporated association in September 2023, two years from now, for which we will be developing plans. In the words of former President Yoshida, the incorporation is intended to “clarify the system of responsibility for the activities and accounting of the Society.” It will raise the status of the Society by one level, and we will prepare with all due solemnity to achieve this goal.
However, there is more to it. To begin with, the members should not be concerned with whether the Society is a voluntary organization or a general incorporated association. What we should never forget is the essence of an academic society, which refers to a group where like-minded individuals gather. Generally, an academic society is like a club. In an academic society, you pursue your studies in the field you are interested in, hold discussions freely and openly with other members, and meet like-minded companions. Academic societies must continue to be such places of fun. I will do my utmost to make the Japan Society of Educational Sociology a more stimulating and attractive place than ever before. We must prevent the institutionalization process of incorporation from distorting the essence of such a Society.
Specifically, I would like to further improve the quality of the Society in two directions. The first is by enhancing the quality of member services, whereas the second is by increasing our social presence.
The former (i.e., enhancing the quality of member services) was something that Dr. Hiroyuki Kondo, the former President of the Society and also my colleague at work, always emphasized. It is an inward perspective; however, we have to provide member services that are worth the membership fee, which is not trivial. The Society’s activities in the previous term included online contributions to its journal and renewal of the website. In the current term, we will continue to review and improve our routine activities.
The latter (i.e., increasing our social presence) is a topic of strong interest to me. I consider this improvement to be an approach from an outward perspective, and I hope to increase the significance and influence of educational sociology. Until last year, I was a member of the Science Council of Japan (in the field of pedagogy) and the Secretary General of the Liaison Council of Educational Societies. During my duties, I realized that although individual researchers in the field of educational sociology have made significant progress, there is still scope for improvement in terms of our ability to appeal and communicate with the society as a collective body. I would like to emphasize social contact and impact, rather than being confined to research for research’s sake.
As the realities of social inequality and risk have dominated the center of our lives, the social mission of educational sociology is of enormous significance. Educational sociology has developed on the basis of its identity as an ontological study; however, currently it is placed under a growing demand to provide improvements and solutions to various societal issues. Let us explore the path of educational sociology that has an open circuit to society.