The tangled web of Buddhism: an internet analysis of religious doctrinal differences

Contemporary Buddhism 13 (2):301-319 (2012)
This article looks at the ways in which globalization and modernization have led to a number of changes in Buddhism. These include both the cultures in which it is practiced as well as the form that this practice takes. One consequence of existing within new cultures is that a religion that has been the majority faith for over 1000 years in many Asian countries is now a minority faith in the West. This study tests the hypothesis that religious doctrinal differences are relative and the borders between religious organizations are malleable. In order to overcome inherent difficulties in studying small atypical organizations, these analyses rely on new methodological techniques by building on the internet and website links as a sociological tool. This study examines the use of websites by American Buddhists, both to determine the networks they are part of and what content they use. Comparisons are drawn to the similarities between American Buddhism as a small foreign religion and independent non-denominational Christian congregations. Consequences for studying Buddhism and future avenues of research involving the internet are discussed
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