Academic approaches to the BJD hobby?

Apr 6, 2020

    1. I'm so new to the hobby and therefore all its aspects are like discovering the customs of a foreign culture to me. Since I'm in grad school and my brain processes things only when it's in the format of a research paper, I got to wondering: do any of you know about scientific research done on the BJD hobby?
      This could be anything: cultural differences in the hobby between eastern and western hobbyists, any psychological or sociological aspect (why people collect; dolls' therapeutic potential; the doll-buyers demographic; the less savoury social aspects of the hobby; anything); the history of their existence and emergence written down in a more academic format (or art history on dolls as a whole?); even papers about the economics of it are welcome.
      (Extra points if someone has philosophical writings on dolls in general. You'd make my philosopher's heart a happy one.)

      If no such thing exists to your knowledge, why do you think that is? Recently things like fanfiction have begun to be taken seriously in academic fields, and I think the BJD community would be a wonderful and rich topic for research. Yet I also understand that many people (the ones that hold the funds, mostly) might not think it 'serious' enough to merit that kind of attention.
       
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    2. I know people have in the past here on DOA done polls for research papers. Some people have just asked a few questions and people copy and paste questions in a post with their answers added. As far as history of bjd hobby Wikipedia, and the difference between eastern and western hobbyists try either designing a question form of look to YouTube.

      If you put questions in general discussion thread you will get a lot of replies. I can tell you the age range as well as years in hobby will vary greatly, as well as taste in types of BJD collected.
       
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    3. I stumbled across a reference to BJDs, comparing them to the surrealist constructs of Hans Bellmer, in the chapter "Girls in lace dresses: the intersections of Gothic in Japanese Youth fiction and fashion" from "New Directions in Children's Gothic: Debatable Lands" edited by Anna Jackson (2017).
       
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    4. You will not find much info on these sorts of studies on Den of Angels. We do not allow this kind of research to happen on the forum, there just isn't a place for it.

      DoA is a place for people to enjoy the actual doll hobby, it's not a place to study your fellow members. Over the years we have had many people want to do research and write papers about BJDs and their owners, and each time we have told the OPs that they need to take it offsite.
       
    5. Ah, I was not aware of this! My apologies. I wasn't looking for research done on the forums or by forum members (I understand that that would be a bit tricky, it's not the purpose of the forums or the community), merely looking for titles of papers that have already been written. If that's also against the rules, please delete the thread and no hard feelings :)
       
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    6. Cursory looking thru JSTOR uncovers only brief references in a work on otaku culture, so that would be no.

      I’d love to read some research on dolls (no, not on DoA members, I don’t think that’s what OP is looking for either). Modern machine learning could probably be applied to assess what facial feature ratios and body/limb ratios are preeminent in sculpts, which would be very very interesting.
       
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    7. @With-a-curl I didn't think you were doing research, but I thought you should know why you won't find anything like that on DoA (and let anyone who reads this know it is not allowed). Based on the number of times we've had to tell people not to do research for papers here, that must mean those papers are out there somewhere.
       
    8. On the podcast ningyo-bingo they have a few episodes discussing these topics. I listen to the podcast on stitcher (it's an ok app) but you can probably listen from their website or if you have a preferred podcast app it might be there.
       
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    9. I actually have read one for a class, and I was planning to do BJD research myself this year but because of the whole COVID fiasco I had to postpone my project. I'm still planning to conduct research, hopefully next year, and I was hoping to conduct it both in the US and in Japan (because I'm planning to study abroad). Unfortunately, the only fully academic paper I've read on BJD was a little.... well, I disagreed with a lot of it. It was a very Freudian analysis of men's relationship with different types of dolls (love dolls, dakimakura, and BJD) all in one article. It was interesting, but I didn't feel that the author adequately researched the culture surrounding BJD, to be honest. It didn't really acknowledge female and GNC people who collect BJD, which I'd argue make up a huge portion of collectors, at least in the US.

      They also didn't distinguish between Dollfie Dream and Super Dollfie (their research was focused on Volks since it was Japan-based and a bit older) and the cultures surrounding those are so different that this seemed like a big problem with the article to me. For example, from my own observations there seem to be more male DD collectors and female resin BJD collectors (not universal at all of course! I myself collect both, haha) as a general trend, and the way they interact with their dolls tends to be somewhat different between the two groups. Sorry, went off on a tangent there but I had a lot of issues with that article to be honest!

      If you're interested, this is the article (I read it for my Gender and Sexuality in Japan course last semester):
      https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14649365.2016.1228112
      As you can see from the abstract, it's not really focused on BJD but about men and dolls in general, and dolls as forms of alternative intimacy. It is a very interesting read, but take the information about BJD culture with a grain of salt because I can tell they didn't do a huge amount of BJD-specific research or actually speak to collectors. And keep in mind it is focused solely on the Japanese male market (no problem with that of course, but it's not the only market for BJD, as you can see from this forum).

      This isn't really an academic article, but it is by an anthropologist who has done academic research on otaku culture, maid cafes, and other pop culture subjects in Japan: https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/plastic-fantastic-japans-doll-industry-booming
      It's more of a news article, but I appreciate Galbraith's writing about it since he is knowledgeable about Japanese pop culture and he writes from an anthropological perspective.

      I hope this helps, and I hope it's okay that I shared these on here! I know it isn't allowed to conduct research on DOA but I'm hoping it's okay to share these articles.
       
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    10. I think searching for preexisting academic papers specifically on BJDs won't turn up much, since it's such a small, relatively new hobby. Interested parties would have better luck searching for general doll-figures in art, specifically surrealist art. Try reading analyses of the works of Hans Bellmer's dolls and Cindy Sherman's medical model photos.
       
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    11. mikeg. thanks for. sharing this interesting thesis-very relatable to alot of us 'collectors'

      love that the history is pretty clear in what I remember when I began collecting in 2004
       
      #12 rolopuppet, Apr 9, 2020
      Last edited: Apr 9, 2020
    12. @mikeg thank you for linking that! It’s a wealth of hobby information from someone with knowledge of dolls and an eye towards accuracy, which is more than that “Into the Arms...” paper seems to have afforded BJDs (I guess understandable given that the paper was discussing dolls in the narrow context of fertility.) I enjoyed learning about the particulars of the hobby in China as well, am always curious about what specifics differ between hobby communities around the world.
       
    13. @mikeg Thank you for that link. It's such a fascinating read!