Applicability of Religious Economy Model (REM) to the Growth of Fortunetelling in Contemporary Korea

Applicability of Religious Economy Model (REM) to the Growth of Fortunetelling in Contemporary Korea

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Title: Applicability of Religious Economy Model (REM) to the Growth of Fortunetelling in Contemporary Korea
Author: Yoo, Kwangsuk
Abstract: The thesis attempts to test basic assumptions of religious economy model (REM) in the Korean context where a recent expansion of fortunetelling occurs. The thesis pays attention to both the supply-side and the demand-side factors of fortunetelling and then explain why the demand-side factors are more important for a better understanding of the popularity of fortunetelling in contemporary Korea. The supply-side factors such as religious regulation, competition, and religious freedom have not worked in Korea in the same way that REM observed in the Western context. Today the Korean religious market faces two unexpected phenomena: one is the popularity of fortunetelling culture, and the other is a slightly decreasing membership of Protestantism, which REM regards as the most competitive religion in religious market. Since the 1980s, traditional values of fortunetelling provided by mudangs or yeoksulgas has been reevaluated and reconstructed in various aspects. Based on the results of field research on participants in Korean fortunetelling, the thesis shows how and why the participants consume traditional fortuntelling service rather than prophetic functions of official religions. Conclusively, the thesis suggests that REM should take into consideration the demand-side factors more importantly when it tries to explain a Korean religious society.
Date: 2012
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/23071
Supervisor: Beyer, Peter
Faculty: Arts
Degree: PhD

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