PANDEMICS, SURGICAL MASKS, AND JAPANESE COLLECTIVISM
by Brayden Li-Kato
Abstract – This paper explores the history, effects, and responses to the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Japan. It argues that the mask wearing culture in Japan has resulted from collectivism in the country. Masks are not very effective in protecting yourself, but only prevent you from spreading viruses to others, and so this is for the benefit of the community and not something selfish. It draws from various sources, including academic papers, news articles, posters about pandemics, and other sources on collectivist theory. Part ethnography, the paper also draws from personal and family experience living in Japan these past few months.
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