Religion has been described as an opiate, a reversion to tradition, and a method of coping with modern life. Drawing on case studies of contemporary prosperity-based religious movements in Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines and Vietnam, this paper shows that religion can play a dynamic and facilitative role in contemporary social and material relations. Writers who address the social and economic upheavals of the late modernity tend to describe religion as a passive, static, traditional, even nostalgic refuge from modern demands, and as a deliberate turn away from the increasing “individualization” of responsibility for lifestyle choices and economic circumstances. This paper will show that emerging religious forms and practices in South East Asia can be characterized as modern institutions which actually constitute personal ethics of responsibility, transparency, individual choice, and autonomy. These ethics, in turn, enable individuals to participate more fully in modern market practices.
|Keywords:||Individualization, Religion, Southeast Asia, Neoliberalism|
Graduate Student, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada