Dissertation Abstracts

Change without Confrontation: The Making of Mainstream Meditation

Author: Kucinskas, Jaime L, jkucinsk@hamilton.edu
Department: Sociology
University: Indiana University, USA
Supervisor: Robert V. Robinson
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: meditation , social change , social movements , cultural change
Areas of Research: Religion , Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Organization


My dissertation investigates how a movement of Buddhist meditators transformed meditation from a stigmatized, countercultural, religious practice in America to a mainstream practice embraced by esteemed secular organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, Ivy League schools, hospitals, the U.S. military, and K-12 schools. This movement diffused meditation to these different secular audiences with seeming ease, despite how prior Buddhist movements received negative backlashes after brief periods of popularity, and how other similar religiously inspired movements (e.g. Transcendental Meditation) have been met with opposition as they expanded into science and education. I examine how Buddhist-inspired meditators legitimized and diffused meditation across secular fields. By doing so, I contribute to scholarship on social movements, institutional change, and field theory by identifying various ways movements can use consensus-based tactics—rather than confrontation and protest as much of the research on movements and contentious politics suggests—to build a new multi-institutional contemplative field and legitimize meditation.