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Chapter 1 opens with a narrative detailing the countless ways in which we interact with others about politics on a daily basis. We illustrate that previous research on the topic has left several assumptions untested, such as that individuals feel “upset” or “anxious” when faced with political disagreement, that social harmony can affect our political discussion behavior, and that the decision to engage in or avoid a discussion is an active choice. The goal of this chapter is to summarize the book’s key contributions, persuade readers of its importance, and preview the remaining chapters.
The Conclusion begins with a brief review of the contents of Chapters 1 through 4 with special emphasis on the elements claimed to be uniquely ‘Kamigata.’ Next, it is proposed that, while it is a chief claim in this study that Kamigata rakugo is decidedly ‘merchant-centered,’ merchant stories usually do not reflect shōnin katagi – the way idealized merchants act, think, and feel. Instead of being presented as hard workers, innovative, and skilled, they are generally portrayed as irresponsible, unskilled, and weak. The incongruity of this image creates the basis for much of the humor in Kamigata rakugo stories, but – just as Edo storytellers targeted the established order (i.e., samurai) with indirect jokes and pranks as authorities grew weaker at the end of the early modern era – this also points to an undercurrent of transgression, which developed in step with the loss of faith in and subsequent breakdown of Osaka merchant traditions.
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