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A Buddhist response to modernization in Thailand (with particular reference to conservationist forest monks).


Several studies conducted in the 1970's by western analysts concluded that Buddhism is the main obstacle to economic development in Thailand. This view typifies the reasoning of mainstream modernization and development practices in Third World countries. Yet in recent years, Post World War II policies based upon the goal of modernization have been under attack for the environmental disasters they have generated, for their failure to improve human conditions where they have been implemented, and for their assumption that the western world's high levels of production and consumption are superior to all other socio-economic possibilities. This dissertation focuses on Buddhist community and environmental action as a response to the hardships generated by modernization, and the ethical and spiritual system on which this action is based, especially as demonstrated by Thailand's forest monks.