Japanese Law: Once More with Feeling

Event date
14 October 2022
Event time
11:00 - 12:00
Oxford week
MT 1
Online - Zoom
Leon Wolff

Chair: Matthew S. Erie (Oxford)


Emotions enrich our lives. They define our passions and interests; they give colour to our life events; and, as e-motions, they move us to make choices and decisions. The psychological and neurological  sciences have long dismissed the false dichotomy between the unruly horse of the emotions and the calm rider of the intellect. And although sociologists and cultural critics have drawn inspiration from these scientific traditions to develop feeling rules and affect theory to explain transformations in social relations, legal sociologists have kept their feelings in check -- at least in their scholarly accounts. 

This paper explores the explanatory power of emotions and affect in explaining reconfiguration of legal relations in Japan. It considers the different conceptualisations of feelings, their corporeal, cognitive and cultural dimensions, how they manifest intra- and inter-subjectively, and the methodological challenges involved in accessing, operationalising and analysing emotions to make better ‘sense’ of Japanese law and society. This paper argues that emotions, as forces that drive movement and absorbed personal and social knowledge, offer richer possibilities for explaining socio-legal change than current, more static material accounts based on national character, institutional design, politics or rational choice models. 


Portrait of Leon Wolff, Hitotsubashi

Leon Wolff is the incoming Professor of Global Business Law at the Graduate Research School of Law, Hitotsubashi University. He is also an Industry Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University; an Honorary Associate at the Japanese Studies Centre, Monash University; and an Adjunct at the University of Queensland School of Law. Leon has near-native fluency in Japanese with professional accreditation as a Japanese-English translator and conference interpreter.  Leon’s research focuses on Japanese law and society, with publications on corporate governance, employment rights, legal system reform and litigiousness in Japan. His current project is an investigation into emotions and affect theory to re-think existing theories of Japanese legal consciousness. Leon co-founded the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL) where he remains affiliated as the ANJeL Senior Research Fellow and External Advisor. 

Found within

Socio-Legal Studies