Abstract

Widely recognized as a social problem in Japan, kodokushi (solitary death) stereotypically happens when old people living alone, detached from kin and neighbors, die alone without being noticed immediately, leaving the body to decompose. Reorganizing Japanese discourses of kinship, locality, and other modalities of “connection” (en), practices and projects concerning solitary death articulate an emergent fantasy of sociality. I analyze this fantasy as an ideology of communication that draws upon idioms of “contact,” or phaticity: “touching-together” (fureai), “connecting” (tsunagari), and so on. Due recognition of such an ideology reveals different ways in which sociality is understood in Japan today. Reclaiming the concept of phaticity through a more explicit theoretical metalanguage, I offer an exploration of the cultural concept of en to suggest that the condition of solitude transpires in an interstice between two qualitatively different chronotopes of sociality.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1518
Print ISSN
0003-5491
Pages
pp. 373-400
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-23
Open Access
No
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