Originally founded in 1954, JSSSW is an academic society with approximately 5,000 members today.
Social welfare strives for a society of co-existence where people with diverse values can pursue their own happiness. To achieve this, it encompasses activities to create the necessary social conditions. A society in which every member reaches well-being is a mere utopia. Yet, it is safe to say that a society in which not every member can pursue their own happiness is unfair. Social welfare studies engages in research to further such social welfare.
A characteristic in Japanese social welfare studies is that it has targeted both social policy and social work, emphasizing the mutual relationship between policy and practice, thus developing as one academic discipline. In the early stages of social welfare studies, one point of debate was whether the essence of social welfare lies in policy or in practice. However, today we pay attention to relationship between the two. It is deemed necessary to think of policy and practice as an interlocking system in which frontline practice impacts policy formation while welfare planning and other policy developments impact the progress of practice.
Also, another characteristic of social welfare studies is that it not only analyzes the substance of phenomena in the interlocking system of policy and practice, but it includes the critical analysis of this substance based on the relationship with underlying values and norms. Social welfare policy and practice are always questioned with regard to what values and norms they rely on to demonstrate their social necessity and validity. We can say that by critically analyzing social welfare systems from a viewpoint of value-based justification, another important function of social welfare studies is to propose directions where social welfare should proceed to (*).
To contribute to the advancement and spreading of social welfare studies as described, the Japanese Society for the Study of Social Welfare engages in the following activities: hosting of academic conferences (National Conventions twice a year and JSSSW Forums organized on the regional block level), publishing of the Journal of Social Welfare (four times a year), on-line publishing of the English language Japanese Journal of Social Welfare (once a year), presentation of the JSSSW Award, and exchanges with domestic and international academic associations in similar fields (particularly, JSSSW has signed a memorandum with the Korean Academy of Social Welfare and has regular interactions with the professional council of social welfare research in China).
Social welfare studies is an academic discipline open to various people with diverse interests. I sincerely hope that many readers will find it interesting.
* Regarding the characteristics of social welfare studies, please refer to the Reference Standards of Education Program Organization for Field-Specific Quality Assurance of University Education: the Field of Social Welfare Studies by the Reference Standards Development Sub-Committee of the Sociology Committee's Social Welfare Studies Division at the Science Council of Japan.