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postgraduate thesis: Living as a disciple : charisma in the case of Soka Gakkai International of Hong Kong

TitleLiving as a disciple : charisma in the case of Soka Gakkai International of Hong Kong
Authors
Issue Date2015
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Kobayashi, A. [小林步]. (2015). Living as a disciple : charisma in the case of Soka Gakkai International of Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5481907
AbstractCharisma has remained an important dimension of humankind’s social life, especially when religion is concerned. This thesis aims to address the question of how charisma is maintained even as it becomes routinized. In the sociology of Max Weber, charisma is defined as the extraordinary quality of a leader recognized by his followers and constitutes a type of authority in contrast to legal-rational and traditional authorities. Weber then proposed the thesis of the routinization of charisma, arguing that charisma was revolutionary, yet also inherently ephemeral and would inevitably be “routinized” into legal-rational or traditional authority. Recent studies have remodeled the concept of charisma based on empirical cases and theoretical contributions provided by prolific literature after Weber. Charisma has been redefined as “the expectation of the extraordinary” and the interdependence of charisma, institution and tradition has been increasingly emphasized, instead of their mutual exclusiveness. To address the question, this study examines the case of Soka Gakkai and Soka Gakkai International (SG&I), a new religion, which originated in prewar Japan. It has established a gigantic organization with an alleged membership of twelve million throughout the world and has developed various institutions affiliated to it. Meanwhile, its current leader, Ikeda Daisaku (池田大作), is well known as a charismatic leader to whom millions of members have expressed personal devotion for over five decades. It specifically focuses on young male Japanese members living in Hong Kong, who can be regarded in the periphery of the organization. This study argues that discipleship of followers is the key to the maintenance of charisma. Discipleship shapes members’ identity, daily practice and lives. Ethnographic accounts on members’ daily activities and the life stories of three members, yielded through eight months of fieldwork, illustrate members’ paths to become disciples and the nature of their discipleship. Also, the techniques employed by the organization to cultivate the discipleship are demonstrated. These include reinterpreting a Japanese traditional concept shitei (mentor and disciple), cultivating discipleship in secular educational institutions and offering rhetorical devices such as commemorative dates. My findings not only enhance our understanding of charisma and its routinization, but also shed light on the daily activities of grassroots members of SG&I, which until recently, have been neglected by literature on SG&I.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectCharisma (Personality trait) - China - Hong Kong
Dept/ProgramSociology
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/211142

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorKobayashi, Ayumu-
dc.contributor.author小林步-
dc.date.accessioned2015-07-07T23:10:46Z-
dc.date.available2015-07-07T23:10:46Z-
dc.date.issued2015-
dc.identifier.citationKobayashi, A. [小林步]. (2015). Living as a disciple : charisma in the case of Soka Gakkai International of Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5481907-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/211142-
dc.description.abstractCharisma has remained an important dimension of humankind’s social life, especially when religion is concerned. This thesis aims to address the question of how charisma is maintained even as it becomes routinized. In the sociology of Max Weber, charisma is defined as the extraordinary quality of a leader recognized by his followers and constitutes a type of authority in contrast to legal-rational and traditional authorities. Weber then proposed the thesis of the routinization of charisma, arguing that charisma was revolutionary, yet also inherently ephemeral and would inevitably be “routinized” into legal-rational or traditional authority. Recent studies have remodeled the concept of charisma based on empirical cases and theoretical contributions provided by prolific literature after Weber. Charisma has been redefined as “the expectation of the extraordinary” and the interdependence of charisma, institution and tradition has been increasingly emphasized, instead of their mutual exclusiveness. To address the question, this study examines the case of Soka Gakkai and Soka Gakkai International (SG&I), a new religion, which originated in prewar Japan. It has established a gigantic organization with an alleged membership of twelve million throughout the world and has developed various institutions affiliated to it. Meanwhile, its current leader, Ikeda Daisaku (池田大作), is well known as a charismatic leader to whom millions of members have expressed personal devotion for over five decades. It specifically focuses on young male Japanese members living in Hong Kong, who can be regarded in the periphery of the organization. This study argues that discipleship of followers is the key to the maintenance of charisma. Discipleship shapes members’ identity, daily practice and lives. Ethnographic accounts on members’ daily activities and the life stories of three members, yielded through eight months of fieldwork, illustrate members’ paths to become disciples and the nature of their discipleship. Also, the techniques employed by the organization to cultivate the discipleship are demonstrated. These include reinterpreting a Japanese traditional concept shitei (mentor and disciple), cultivating discipleship in secular educational institutions and offering rhetorical devices such as commemorative dates. My findings not only enhance our understanding of charisma and its routinization, but also shed light on the daily activities of grassroots members of SG&I, which until recently, have been neglected by literature on SG&I.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.subject.lcshCharisma (Personality trait) - China - Hong Kong-
dc.titleLiving as a disciple : charisma in the case of Soka Gakkai International of Hong Kong-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5481907-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSociology-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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