Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2008 Volume 4 :: Article 2
2008 Volume 4, Article 2
The Sociology of Buddhism: Theoretical Implications of Current Scholarship

Author: Buster G. Smith (Baylor University) and Paul Froese (Baylor University)

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Current theoretical debates about the sources of religious identity, the process of secularization, and the causes of religious growth reflect basic differences in what have been called the old paradigm and the new paradigm. While there is a latent assumption on both sides of the debate that a general approach can be applied to all religions, current research focuses predominantly on monotheistic religions. To expand the scope of theoretical discussion, we analyze the implications for contemporary scholarship of Buddhism, a religious tradition that has nontheistic and polytheistic orientations. In the end, we argue for the continued application of the new paradigm in the study of Buddhism because of its effectiveness at explaining trends in Buddhist religiosity as groups respond to modernity, secularization, and expanding religious markets.

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