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A Religion of Wellbeing? The Appeal of Buddhism to Men in London, United Kingdom

Lomas, T., Cartwright, T., Edginton, T. & Ridge, D. (2014). A Religion of Wellbeing? The Appeal of Buddhism to Men in London, United Kingdom. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(3), pp. 198-207. doi: 10.1037/a0036420


Against a backdrop of increasing secularization, the number of Buddhists in Britain continues to rise (Office for National Statistics, 2012). However, few studies have explored the reasons people are drawn toward Buddhism, with none focusing on men specifically. Uniquely, we conducted in-depth narrative interviews with 30 male meditators in London, United Kingdom, to explore the appeal Buddhism held for them. Buddhism was portrayed as a nexus of ideas and practices that improved men’s lives. Analyzed through the prism of a multidimensional biopsychosocial model of wellbeing, Buddhism appeared to have the potential to promote wellbeing in biological terms (e.g., health behaviors), psychological terms (e.g., generating subjective wellbeing), and social terms (e.g., offering a supportive social network). From a gendered perspective, Buddhism offered men the opportunity to rework their masculine identity in ways that enhanced their wellbeing. This was a complex development, in which traditional masculine norms were upheld (e.g., Buddhism was constructed as a ‘rational’ framework of ideas/practices), yet also challenged (e.g., norms around alcohol abstinence). Our study offers new insights into the hazards and the attractions—particularly for men—of engaging with Buddhism.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright APA 2014. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Publisher Keywords: meditation; Buddhism; men; masculinity; wellbeing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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