The American Sociologist

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 203–222 | Cite as

Toward a Buddhist Sociology: Theories, Methods, and Possibilities

  • Janine SchipperEmail author


This article explores potential links between Buddhism and sociology, highlighting the many commonalities between sociology and Buddhism, with an emphasis on ways that Buddhist thought and practice may contribute to the field of sociology. What could Buddhism offer to our understanding of social institutions, social problems, and to the dynamics and possibilities for social change? The Four Noble Truths, central to Buddhist teachings, are explored in reference to their sociological theory applications. Finally, mindfulness practices that are endemic to Buddhism are explored as tools for sociologists to consider as they work reflexively, develop sociological insights, and pursue social justice.


Buddhist Sociology Sociological theory Qualitative methods Social justice Social change 



I wish to thank Dr. Maury Stein and Dr. Charlie Fisher for first introducing me to mindfulness practices during an undergraduate class at Brandeis University in 1990. Thank you also to Brandeis professor Peter Conrad for helping me to find the right home for these ideas. Dr. Karla Hackstaff’s encouragement and interest in Buddhist Sociology provided necessary encouragement as I began the process of getting over 20 years of ideas into writing. Many thanks to Larry Nichols for his extensive feedback to help strengthen the paper. I feel indebted to Northern Arizona University’s Department of Sociology and Social Work for providing an environment of support and openness as I pursued these non-traditional sociological themes. Finally, several read and commented on this manuscript, helping me to fine tune it. Thanks go to Eliot Schipper, Eve Paludan, Shawn Bingham, and Ben Brucato.


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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Social WorkNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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