Dissertation project


The “systems approach” and engineering culture in postwar Japan

Working title

A compromised dream: the success and failure of systems-based social integration in Japan, 1960s-1980s

About the project:

My dissertation project deals with the technological imagination and practice associated with the “systems approach” in engineering fields and beyond in Japan between the 1960s and the 1980s. It shows that the history of systems approach in Japan was characterized by three interconnected developments since the 1960s—the formation of a systems engineering field in the academia, the application of computer-based information systems in the industry, and the promotion of systematization policies by the government. In the 1970s, these developments culminated in the formation of a utopian dream of achieving an optimized, efficient, and free society through interdisciplinary studies and computer-based systems integration. Although this dream was dwarfed by the government’s unsuccessful experiments with “social systems” and the rise of the neo-liberal regime in the 1980s, the systems approach has a deep and everlasting impact on Japanese engineers and scientists’ understanding of human society. I argue that to-be-revealed. My work contributes to the literature on technocracy, engineering culture, high modernism and social governance, and technopolitics in and beyond Japan.

Link to my original idea in 2020.