“Cute Studies”. Kawaii (“Cuteness”) – A New Research Field

Oana-Maria BÎRLEA
“Cute Studies”. Kawaii (“Cuteness”) – A New Research Field
Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca
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The present paper aims to show the importance of analysing “cuteness” as a cultural phenomenon and to reveal the hidden meaning of “cute” / “kawaii” signs and symbols, omnipresent in the contemporary Japanese culture. Starting from Konrad Lorenz’s “baby schema”, elaborated in 1943, which revealed specific features that trigger the caregiving instinct, several cultural anthropologists and scholars like Brooks, V. & Hochberg, J., 1965; Kinsella, S., 1995; Nittono, H., 2016; Dale, J.P., 2016, etc. focused on explaining not only the physical characteristics which arouse our emotions, but also their cultural implications. “Cuteness” represents much more than a mere aesthetic, it is a subjective term, thus it strongly depends on one’s culture, language, communication style and ideals promoted within the society, which eventually determine what people perceive as “cute”.

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