Is Buddhism like a Hamburger? Buddhism and the Market Economy in a Globalized World

The Economics of Religion: Anthropological Approaches

ISBN: 978-1-78052-228-9, eISBN: 978-1-78052-229-6

ISSN: 0190-1281

Publication date: 12 December 2011


Buddhism, a globalizing religion, offers a remarkable opportunity to test different hypotheses and models coined in the field of “economics of religion.” Since their foundation over 25 centuries ago, Buddhist ethics have always epitomized extra-worldly and noneconomic philosophies of renunciation. And in the context of globalization, contemporary Buddhist voices praise resistance to the human-engineered damage caused by expansive capitalism. Buddhist traditions have, however, always followed commercial routes and have been involved, although indirectly, in economic affairs. The globalization of Buddhism perpetuates this tendency but also uncovers the rise of “new” relationships between Asian tradition and (capitalistic) economy, in the realm of religious values, behaviors, and organization. This chapter aims at differentiating three models: Buddhism and economy, Buddhist economics, and the economics of Buddhism. It raises questions about the relevance of the “economic”-inspired conceptualization of Buddhist forms and dynamics.


Obadia, L. (2011), "Is Buddhism like a Hamburger? Buddhism and the Market Economy in a Globalized World", Obadia, L. and Wood, D.C. (Ed.) The Economics of Religion: Anthropological Approaches (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 31), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 99-120.

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