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Buddhism, a globalizing religion, offers a remarkable opportunity to test different hypotheses and models coined in the field of “economics of religion.” Since their…
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.
The “economics of religion” has grown into a new and groundbreaking approach to the study of religious beliefs, preferences, attitudes, belongings, organizations, and dynamics. This chapter circumscribes its epistemological area, outlines some of the major developments in the field, allows place for the presentation of both important theoretical models (market theory, rational choice, supply-and-demand) and crucial criticisms that have been directed toward them. If the “economics of religion” partakes of an attempt to explain religion in ancient or recent history, in the conceptual prism of economics, the general movement known as globalization has accelerated the convergence of economics and cultural/social analysis in religious studies. Anthropology, however, has gone its own way regarding economic issues. It has been somewhat reluctant to espouse the principles of “economics of religion,” even while being convinced of its relevance. Some recent anthropological works on globalization and religion are presented here as examples of this ambivalent contribution of anthropology to the economics of religion in global settings.
Based on ethnographic data and a textual analysis, this chapter highlights the process of “therapization” of Buddhism in Western countries, with a specific emphasis on…
Based on ethnographic data and a textual analysis, this chapter highlights the process of “therapization” of Buddhism in Western countries, with a specific emphasis on Tibetan Buddhism in France. Referring to the paradigm of “political economy of health”, as developed in recent medical anthropology, it attempts to explore the relationships between two concepts – economics and health – that had previously been considered separately, in the context of Western Buddhism. Further, this chapter's aim is to expose a potential application of theoretical economic models in an anthropological approach of Buddhist diffusion and appropriation in the West.
This chapter considers the importation of brand images, a key concept in marketing studies, within anthropological approaches to culture and consumption. It does so…
This chapter considers the importation of brand images, a key concept in marketing studies, within anthropological approaches to culture and consumption. It does so through examining modes of cultural valuation toward “Made in China” products on the part of consumers. Following theoretical lines recently established by anthropologists in the study of culture, commodification, and consumption in global settings, and their emphasis upon culture as a label for goods, it also brings into the discussion issues in geopolitics and ethnicity, especially from the viewpoint of ethnographic evidence collected in France and Nepal. “Made in China” products are enmeshed in complex, intermingling, and conflicting imaginations of the Other, brand images, and are associated with the underlying social logic of consumption or avoidance of consumption, often paradoxical, but intelligible in both broad-ranging and local contexts.
This chapter focuses on the changing relationship between multi-level marketing (MLM) and religion. MLM originated in the 1950s in the United States out of a desire to…
This chapter focuses on the changing relationship between multi-level marketing (MLM) and religion. MLM originated in the 1950s in the United States out of a desire to make capitalism more humane. It was initially based on Protestant networks linked to prosperity theology, which among other things enabled it to grow internationally. Yet, comparing how MLM adapted to conditions in three different countries (South Korea, Haiti, and France) shows that its ability to break away from this controversial theology was crucial to its international development. It was then able to approach other religious movements, and even to secularize its values.