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The Values of Ordination: the bhikkhuni, gender, and Thai society

Yavaprabhas, Kakanang; (2018) The Values of Ordination: the bhikkhuni, gender, and Thai society. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis concerns contemporary Thai bhikkhuni in society in relation to the laity, particularly lay women. It adopts an approach that considers a multiplicity of voices not limited to monastics, local traditions, and local modes of thought. The thesis focuses on the social impacts of contemporary bhikkhuni on gendered society, a relatively unexplored aspect of the literature. In order to investigate the social impacts, the thesis examines the socially assumed values of ordination and its fully ordained form in Thai society. It pays particular attention to why and how the fully ordained form of bhikkhuni relates to gender in Thai society. Data for the thesis were based largely on my 12 months of fieldwork in Thailand and were obtained through participant observation, interviews, and questionnaires. This thesis proposes that the social significance of fully ordained women – bhikkhuni –can be understood only when the values of ordination are fully realized in their Thai context. This can be achieved through considering at once a multiplicity of voices, local traditions, and local ways of thinking. This thesis argues that the emergence of contemporary bhikkhuni has wider social impacts on Thai society where religion is not separated from the domain of gender, but is a guiding force that subsumes it. In this regard, bhikkhuni are not only beneficial for lay women, but can empower them. Through both full and temporary ordination, gender relations and ideologies are changing in positive ways for Thai women. This empowerment and transformation is not the result of a feminist agenda. Instead, female monastics all emphasize engagement with Buddhism as a means of transcending rather than transforming gender. This transcendental perspective, which is similar to their shared self-presentations, is arguably what secures them social acceptance in assuming the most important and consequential religious form as fully ordained bhikkhuni.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Values of Ordination: the bhikkhuni, gender, and Thai society
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10050009
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