Faculty and research guide

Laboratory of Welfare Sociology for Rural Communities

Miho Ota

 Welfare is the state or condition of doing or being well. In our laboratory we study social structures of local community, especially rural local communities, to enhance individual or group welfare.
 Welfare is linked to the concept of needs. The needs at issue are not merely those necessary for survival, but those necessary for a reasonable or adequate life within the society. They include not only a minimum level of income for food and clothing, but also adequate housing, education, health care, opportunities for employment, access to natural and cultural life, and so on.
 During the twentieth century, the role of the welfare state has typically increased in advanced industrial countries. The same is true in Japan, both in rural areas and in cities. But the state policies have not always worked well in rural areas. It cause many difficulties to the people in rural areas.

  • Why do the people living in rural areas use welfare services less frequently than those who live in cities?
  • If local elementary school/ day-care center/ store/ fire station/ medical office abolish, what will happen next in the local community?
  • How does the demographic change effect agriculture, forest management and water use?


We also focus on how people respond to these situations: to take examples, a new style of mutual cooperation among local people, migration to rural areas, local job creation, production of high-value (added) crops and vegetables, cooperative works between public sector and private sector. And we see what promote or interfere with problem solving.
We don’t forget to see external factors, such as life styles of urban people, national politics, international economy. They are also important for local life and society.
We study the transformation processes of local community from an interpretative-explanatory sociological perspective, and combine it with qualitative and quantitative research methods. And we examine how to make the social system more acceptable.

Umegashima in Shizuoka  City
Umegashima in Shizuoka City

Shibakawa in Fujinomiya  City
Shibakawa in Fujinomiya City

Local People as Founder  and Manager of Local Day-Care Center in a Swedish Rural Community
Local People as Founder and Manager of Local Day-Care Center in a Swedish Rural Community