Phrarach Panyaraksee [Veeraves Pacharoen] (2010, June). Expected and actual roles of Thai Buddhist monks affecting adherents’ religiosity [in Thai]. Doctoral dissertation, Pathumthani University (Administration Development), Thailand. 219 pp.
Abstract: The objectives of this research are to study (1) Buddhist adherents’ opinions about the expected and actual roles of Buddhist monks and (2) whether adherents’ satisfaction with Buddhists’ and monks’ mannerisms affects their religiosity. The researcher employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods and Q methodology to analyze adherents’ concept of religiosity. An in-depth interview of five adherents was initially used to obtain the adherents’ conceptualization of all the variables used in the study and the findings were used to develop a questionnaire to be pretested, modified, and used to collect data from 1,004 Buddhist adherents in Bangkok. Structural equation modeling was employed to analyze the conceptual framework, using a LISREL software program. For Q methodology, the concourse provided the basis for a Q sample of 34 statements, which were ranked by 30 Buddhist adherents and later analyzed by the PQMethod program.
It was found that adherents expected monks to have a good secular and moral education, to observe strict religious precepts, and to be kind to humankind. The actual roles included religious propagation through the mass media, persuading people to donate to help those in trouble, creating auspicious items to raise temple-support earnings, promoting moral teachings in schools, praying and meditating, and constructing large and magnificent permanent religious artifacts. The reported improper roles of monks included various activities considered inappropriate, such as illegal activities, shopping in department stores, participating in political activities, fixed standing to obtain people’s “merit-making,” earning from tattooing and lottery-number guessing, and alcohol consumption. [Making merit in Thai Buddhism refers to doing good things, such as providing food for monks, praying, and engaging in other activities that bring merit to the donor.]
With respect to satisfaction with monks’ behavior, adherents expressed this through the praising of monks, indicating their willingness to serve them in time of need, observing religious precepts, making merit with the monks, doing anything to protect and support religious activities, and being a religious person.
Regarding the use of Q methodology to study the concept of religiosity, the patterns of adherents’ religiosity consisted of four categories (factors): observing the principle codes, having faith in religious principles, studying and observing the precepts, and protecting Buddhism.
Quantitative data analysis also showed that adherents’ religiosity was influenced both directly and indirectly by their biosocial characteristics and their expected roles of Buddhist monks, more than by the actual behavior of certain monks that indirectly influenced adherents’ religiosity.
Consequently, it was recommended that the Synod Council of the National Buddhism Bureau for monk administration make policies and take measures to improve monks’ roles and render them consistent with adherent’ expectations and Buddhist precepts.
Phrarach Panyaraksee is the royal title of the author, whose given name is Veeraves Pacharoen. He is a high-ranking Buddhist monk in Thailand. His co-advisors were Suchart Prasith-rathsint and Kanikar Sookasame of Pathumthani University. Other members of the examining committee included Sundat Sermsri (Mahidol University), Prasarn Boonsopart (Ramkhamhaeng University), and Palapan Kumpan (National Institute of Development Administration). Dr Sookasame is co-author (with Sasitorn Suwannathep) of Variety of innovative research methods: Q methodology: A scientific study of subjectivity (concepts, theory and application) [Thai] (Bangkok: Samlada Publishing, 2007). Phrarach Panyaraksee is the author of a forthcoming Q study to appear (in Thai) in the Journal of Administration Development Research.