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Keeping It Real!: Constructing and Maintaining Traditional Authenticity in a Tibetan Buddhist Organisation in Scotland

John S. McKenzie
Sociological Research Online 16 (3) 7

Abstract: Many studies on the westward transplantation of Buddhism focus on the retention of traditional authenticity. The sociological perspective provided here moves the emphasis to the social construction of such claims. The social construction of traditional authenticity will be explored through a study of the Tibetan Buddhist organisation, Rokpa Scotland (RS) and it will be demonstrated that RS constructs claims to traditional authenticity by adapting to the local culture whilst demonstrating links with an ancient practice. These claims are then reified by limiting adaptations and retaining core features associated with Buddhism. None the less adapting to the West can be seen as detraditionalization and can present a threat to claims to traditional authenticity. However, RS can claim to control the detraditionalization process by responding to the effects of reflexive modernization and controlling the flow of information. In controlling detraditionalization RS provides the plausibility structures to maintain claims to traditional authenticity.