Introduction: Buddhism and Economics

Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg


Throughout this introductory article, I bring attention to the important distinction between the field of Buddhist Economics and the field of Buddhism and Economics. Rather than drawing up normative frameworks for how one should engage economically, the authors in this special issue offer new theoretical frameworks for conceptualizing how Buddhists necessarily do engage economically. First, I provide a brief overview of the field of religion and economics, and the burgeoning field of Buddhism and Economics more generally. I then narrow in on the innovative theoretical frameworks presented in this special issue, including important discussions as to the impact of Max Weber, along with considering merit and the contingent conjunctures within which Buddhists negotiate economic contexts. The contributing authors in this special issue emphasize not only how Buddhists necessarily engage with the economy, but also how Buddhist economic exchanges influence as well as are influenced by the surrounding socio-economic environment. I conclude by emphasizing the importance of considering economic relations when examining contemporary Buddhist contexts.


Buddhism and economics; Religion and economics; Contemporary Buddhism; Max Weber; merit economy

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