School rules in Japan are consequential in prescribing socially accepted patterns of students' lifestyles both within and outside schools. This article discusses how school rules were interpreted as a social problem in the 1980s and the 1990s. Social constructionist perspectives of social problems call for sensitivity to the plurality of people's interpretations of a given condition. Current understanding of Japanese school rule controversy concentrates on the constitutionality of rules, thus neglecting less reported interpretations. Drawing on the verbal and written accounts of individuals who are involved in Japanese education, this article identifies diverse claims in which school rules are problematized and counter-claims that defend the legitimacy of rules. Identification of diversity in claims and counter-claims contributes to a more-balanced understanding of school rule controversy in Japan. Also, the findings of this article provide a framework for comparative analysis of claims and counter-claims about school rules in different societies.


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pp. 52-63
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