product description page
Society in Contemporary Laos : Capitalism, Habitus and Belief (Hardcover) (Boike Rehbein)
about this item
Over the past decade, Laos’ exposure to global capitalism had contrastive effects. It has experienced extensive economic transformations, which result in larger inequalities and different levels of economic success, thus creating a unique field of constellations.
This book analyses the structure of contemporary Lao society. It pursues the theoretical aim of shedding light on the old question raised by Max Weber about the relation between capitalism, (religious) ethos and society. The empirical aim consists in a description of the social structures, their embodiment in the habitus and world-views in Laos against the background of a critical revision of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology. To achieve these aims, the author develops a qualitative methodology as neither Weber nor Bourdieu explained how to empirically study habitus and ethos. The empirical material for the book was gathered over a period of more than five years and comprises several hundred life-course interviews in all sections of Lao society as well as a representative quantitative survey. The main argument of the study adds complexity and empirical depth to Weber’s and Bourdieu’s approaches. It is based on the observation that classes and life-style milieus have been emerging in Laos but older social structures persist. This is reflected on the level of habitus, which are anchored in different social formations (or historical times) and in most cases embody these differences. The internal multiplicities lead to a large variety of reactions to capitalism and transformations of older beliefs. While social structure, habitus and beliefs are subject to a capitalist transformation and unification, the newly emerging classes and milieus are not copies of Western forms but retain their local history.
Filling a gap in the literature on Laos and offering new perspectives on core concepts such as habitus, class, lifestyle, work ethic and its religious underpinnings, this book will be of interest to academics in the fields of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Southeast Asian Studies.