We live in constant involvement with others. And yet we often forget that these others are fundamentally different to ourselves. We also often try to coerce and control these others. Being difficult to understand, these others can take us by surprise. They may be distant others who we do not even always pay attention to (but who support our lives from a distance). What contemporary society needs is for us to open our courage and insight to these others. The sociological agenda is to discover and pursue the hidden problems of contemporary society, and to fashion a vision of a more desirable society. The Major of Sociology seeks to respond to this agenda by offering its students specialized knowledge and skills that will open up relationships to others. How are relationships with others formed, and how is it that we forget others and try to coerce them? The goal of education and research in the Major of Sociology is to provide training in systematic knowledge and skills that will enable students to establish these questions in relation to concrete phenomena, and to reliably answer them. Seeking to actively link a diverse range of social experiences to education and research, in 1999 we established a system by means of which non-students could apply for entry to the major. In addition, this major participates in an interchangeable credit system with other graduate school sociology courses, and students are able to take credits from 26 schools and majors at 23 universities in the Kanto region.
The qualification “Social Researcher” was established as a new official qualification in 2004. This qualification was created in order to develop specialists in social research possessing the research knowledge and skills essential for the various statistical surveys conducted by ministries, government agencies and municipalities, and the market surveys and public opinion surveys conducted by companies and NPOs, in addition to the ability to grasp the nature of social events that is essential to learning in the field of sociology. The Social Researcher qualification is not a national qualification received on the basis of a test. A student will be granted the qualification if, after graduating having taken the designated subjects at a university teaching sociology and earning the requisite credits, he or she applies to the Japanese Association for Social Research, an organization established by institutions including the Japan Sociological Society (a fee applies). There are two Social Researcher qualifications: Specialist Social Researcher (for students of the Master’s courses of graduate school sociology courses) and Social Researcher (for students of four-year university undergraduate courses). Students of the Major of Sociology are able to apply for the Specialist Social Researcher qualification upon graduation from the Master’s course, having taken the requisite subjects. It is first necessary to receive the undergraduate Social Researcher qualification before the Specialist Social Researcher qualification can be received, but it is possible for a student to earn the qualification by taking the requisite subjects in the undergraduate sociology course in parallel with their graduate school studies (a minimum of two years is necessary). For more details regarding the Social Researcher qualification, see the homepage of the Meiji Gakuin University Faculty of Sociology & Social Work or the homepage of the Japanese Association for Social Research (http://jasr.or.jp/).
The Graduate School of Sociology & Social Work (Major of Sociology and Major of Social Work) has a system offering a benefit-type research subsidy to graduate school students. This system offers two subsidies: Type 1, for new entrants to the Master’s course in the Major of Sociology, offers 250,000 yen per person to a maximum of 10 students; Type 2, for students in their second year or above and new entrants to the Doctor’s course, offers 150,000 yen per person to a maximum of 15 students. For more details, please enquire at the Graduate School Office.