The 5Ss of Sosei Partners

The 5Ss of Sosei Partners

Sosei Partnersの5つのS

Sosei Partners strives to connect rural Japan with the international community for two main purposes- firstly, it is for us to learn about the charms, challenges and innovative solutions of these regions and secondly, it is for us to inject fresh perspectives to contribute to regional revitalization. Our work encompasses a myriad of issues and involves a wide range of stakeholders, including the local residents, governments, organizations and companies. As such, it is of utmost importance that we ensure constant communication with the locals and follow a set of principles that would not put us in antagonist and awkward positions against the locals. It is not a dichotomy between local versus global, but rather it involves maneuvering within the penumbral area that is overlapped, where there is compromise and mutual understanding.


There are five steps that we abide by closely, when carrying out our activities. It is the 5Ss of Sosei Partners- the standard procedures of a model we hope to create, and possibly replicate in other countries and cultural contexts too.


Below are the 5Ss:


1. Space: This refers to the convening of the people involved. To start any project in our target region(s), we need a physical or virtual space where we can exchange ideas and communicate. There is a double meaning to this space- both a physical space for locals and non-locals to interact, and a public sphere (Offentlichkeit), as defined by Jurgen Habermas, as “an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action”, although our ultimate aim is not to influence political action but to create positive change in society. The first step for us is to find a space where we can grow and sow the seeds of our project(s).

1. Space(空間・場所):これは人の集いを意味します。どこの地域においても、まずは物理的な場所、或いはバーチャルな空間において意見交換やコミュニケーションを図るSpaceが必要です。このSpaceは2つの意味を持ちます。1つは地元の人と外から来た人が交流する物理的な場所です。もう1つはドイツの社会哲学者ユルゲン・ハーバーマスが定義した公共圏です。公共圏とは、個人が自由に集まり、社会課題を指摘し、それについて語り合い、市民社会をもたらす空間です。私たちは社会変化を起こすため、まずは人が交流するSpaceを作るのが第一歩です。

2. System: This refers to the larger vision of the region that we are working with. It can be the holistic plan of the region in how it wishes to develop in the near future, or it can be the consensus of the people in how they wish their region would become. It is important for us to understand the system and the stakeholders involved, so that we know who we are working with, and the general direction which we are heading for. The second step is for us to grasp and understand the system in which we are functioning.

2. System(システム):これは私たちが活動する地域の長期的なビジョンを指します。その地域の行政が持つ中長期のプラン、または地元の人々が自分の地域がどういうふうにしていきたいかということです。私たちが活動する地域の未来像を理解することができれば、私たちの活動が地元の目指す方向が対立にならず、一緒に同じ方向に向かって進むことができます。

3. Social Capital: This refers to the interpersonal relations among the people involved. The phrase social capital here is borrowed from Robert Putnam (1994), James Coleman (2009) and Pierre Bourdieu (1986). It includes bonding social capital (between people of the same community), bridging social capital (between people across different communities), linking social capital (between the communities and the authority), and traversing social capital (between the local community and the outsiders). Simply put, it is the trust that we build with the locals, and the complex relationships that exist across various stakeholders. The third step is for us to build harmonious relations with the locals, the authority and other parties involved in our project(s).

3. Social Capital(社会関係資本):これは私たちが関わっている様々な人の間の信頼関係を指します。社会関係資本はいくつかの種類があります。結合型は同じコミュニティに属する人たちの間の社会関係資本。橋渡し型は異なるコミュニティに属する人たちの間の社会関係資本。連結型はコミュニティと権力者(行政)との間の社会関係資本。そして、変化型は地元コミュニティと外部の人との間の社会関係資本。簡単にいうと、次のステップは地元の人、または関わる全ての人との関係性を慎重に築き上げることです。

4. Social Contract: This refers to the process of matching needs with capacities, challenges with solutions. It is a new social contract between the different stakeholders and how they interact with each other. After defining the problem and building a healthy relationship with the locals, the next step is to create a social contract where we know what resources we have and how we can go about dealing with the challenges.

4. Social Contract(社会的契約):これは適材適所ということです。課題を見つけて、解決策を当て、またはその人の実力に応じて任務を与えるということです。社会の中にできた新しい社会的契約を結ぶということです。私たちが抱える課題と資源を明らかにし、課題解決するためのマッチングを行うということです。

5. Science: The last part is science, which refers to the actual practical and systematic activity where we carry out the processes to test our hypothesis. It is an iterative process of observation, experiment and correcting, or more commonly known as the PDCA cycle. However, we have to be flexible and adaptable to changes to the environment and circumstances.

5. Science(実験):課題とリソースを洗い出してから、あとは実証実験し、 PDCAサイクルを回すのみです。しかし、状況や環境の変化には臨機応変する必要があります。変化には柔軟に対応し、結果が出るまで、実験していきます。

Above are the five Ss that we abide by as we carry out our projects connecting rural Japan with the international community.