Next Generation Research Incubator

Research Exploring the Future Fair Society of the 21st Century Welfare State Model

A multidisciplinary team of researchers looks at how to create a fair society — on a global scale

With globalization comes the need to ensure that people from all cultures, countries and backgrounds are treated fairly and equally. The drive to create a just global society requires solid foundations in all countries, backed by informed government policies and strong support networks at local and national levels.

Much previous research into justice and social change has been dominated by studies of Western societies, but the rapid changes experienced by Asian countries in recent decades have spawned a growing field of research focused on building fair societies in Asia.

Researchers in law, politics, economics and social sciences have recently established the Chiba Studies on Global Fair Society project, with the aim of creating an interdisciplinary research base to inform future local, national and international policies.

Lead researcher on the project, Jiro Mizushima, says the key concept is fairness. “We define fairness as the basic element of justice,” he explains. “In fact, we argue that it exceeds justice in most cases. At the same time, we embrace values such as equality and liberty.”

Mizushima, whose research interests lie in welfare state reform in Europe, says the project aims to go beyond the traditional discussion of equality — it seeks to construct new principles that value diversity among people in a global society.

How do we achieve a fair society?

The project consists of four interrelated research groups and a further six teams working to publicize the findings to a wide audience. Their focus is on challenging and overcoming unfair practices on all scales, investigating issues such as gender inequality, widening income gaps, migration, and the collapse of regional and marginal communities, both in Japan and around the world.

The key aims of the project are to investigate the development, transformation and limitations of existing welfare state models and to provide empirical evidence for how a fair society can be achieved in the 21st century. Mizushima has spent considerable time researching aspects of the welfare state in the Netherlands, including how it has responded to social challenges such as global economic fluctuations and an aging population.

“Fairness has been the core of legal and political philosophy since ancient times, and so another of our teams is examining equality and fairness from a historical perspective, comparing political, economic and legal standpoints over time,” he says. “Another group will analyze the meaning of fairness in the 21st century, providing us with fundamental guidelines to underpin our program.”

The team plans to form networks of academics across the globe. To this end, they have hosted two highly successful international symposiums and another one is planned for later this year. “Many of our members are involved in local and national policy-making committees, and they are key to informing policy makers of our work,” says Mizushima.

The project welcomes those interested in all aspects of social science, from law and politics to sociology and economics. Students and researchers alike will receive training from scholars in their own field and other program members, allowing them to broaden their research interests.