Quizzes and Questionnaires: Learning to Play Democracy under US Occupation in Germany and Japan
Re-educating “the Japanese” and “the Germans” after the war had ended was not merely a political or educational undertaking; it was also a cultural one. Directly influenced by the thought and therapeutic methods of rather new academic disciplines such as social psychology, psychotherapy, and anthropology, reeducation (or “reorientation”) was understood as the un- learning of (allegedly “pathological”) cultural or behavioural patterns. Besides the necessity to reform educational institutions, the mass media was assigned a pivotal role in purging these old totalitarian patterns, and instead teaching the new liberal-democratic and capitalist values. Acknowledging the paradox of training entire societies in liberalist values such as “freedom”, “fair play”, or “individualism” in times of a top-down military occupation, methods of mediated “participation” were considered an appropriate and “playful” way of training these new values. In particular, these methods included participatory broadcasting formats (e.g., street interviews and quiz shows) and opinion surveys commissioned by the military governments, conducted by newspaper companies or newly founded opinion research institutes in Japan and Germany.