In this symposium, we discuss several aspects of corporate religion in Asia, and offer some theoretical and methodological suggestions for studying this underexplored topic.
In most academic discourse, ‘religion’ is discursively differentiated from other, ‘secular’ realms of society, such as public administration, corporate culture, and market economies. Studies of (Asian) religion usually focus on doctrine/philosophy, sacred texts, ritual practices, or political ideology. Only rarely do they analyse institutional or economic structures. Accordingly, religious institutions are commonly perceived and analysed in very different terms from, say, private enterprises, state-owned corporations, or NGOs.
In this symposium, we discuss several aspects of corporate religion in Asia, and offer some theoretical and methodological suggestions for studying this underexplored topic. We argue that it is necessary to get a better understanding of the involvement of religious actors in the market economy, and of the structural similarities between religious and corporate institutions, in order to achieve a better understanding of contemporary Asian market economies and the socio-political systems by which they are shaped. Although there are notable differences between various Asian societies, we believe “corporate religions” play a central role in many of them. At this symposium, we will explore several cases of religious organisations in contemporary Asia, and compare some of the ways in which they operate as (semi-)corporate actors in the modern market economy.
Levi McLaughlin, North Carolina State University
Olivia Yun-An Dung, Leiden University
Vladimir Tikhonov, University of Oslo
Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester
Morgaine Wood, University of Oslo
Jolyon Thomas, University of Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Williams-Ørberg, University of Copenhagen
Aike P. Rots, University of Oslo