Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)

College/School

College of Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster

Second Advisor

David H. Kim

Third Advisor

John K. Nelson

Abstract

Although Buddhists practitioners have always been taught to avoid unnecessary consumption, they often purchase Buddhist symbolic objects such as Mala beads, Buddhist pendants and charms, Buddhist car pendants, house decorations, and so on. How is it that followers of a religion who seek to be liberated from consumerism, in turn, form an exceptional type of consumerism—one which is validated through the concept of the “sacred canopy”? What motivates and encourages these followers to purchase such Buddhist symbolic objects? This paper traces the causes that inform the purchase intention of Asian Buddhist consumers as they acquire Buddhist symbolic objects. The paper uses the Theory of Planned Behaviors (TPB), which categorizes three influential factors—including one’s attitude toward the behavior, subjective norms about the behavior, and perceived behavior control—in order to discover motives for consumerism. Moreover, using various methods of data analysis, the paper finds that with a high level of religious commitment, people are more affected by subjective norms that reinforce the importance of buying Buddhist symbolic objects. Significantly, when it comes to purchasing these objects, Buddhist consumers are less likely to be affected by their perceived behavior toward such consumption. This paper builds on the existing discourse about the relationship between consumer behaviors and their religion, drawing upon the concept of “sacred canopy” introduced by Peter Berger (1967) and “religious commodification” defined by Pattana Kitiarsa (2008). This paper’s findings add dimension and nuance to our understanding about the driving forces behind the purchasing intention of Buddhist consumers.

Available for download on Thursday, May 23, 2019

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