Dialectic nature of digital culture: theoretical analysis of evolutionary 'digital Buddhism' of social media debate


  • W.K.M. Wijayarathna Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • P. Abhayasundere Department of Anthropology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • P.M. Jayaweera Department of Computer Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka


Popular Buddhism is one of the key cultural aspects in present Sri Lankan society.  Its main cause is the characteristics of the path of the Buddhism which it currently travels. Digital anthropology is a field that studies the complex relationships between human culture and the concept of digital. Prominently, digital is a concept based on binary numbers which means 1 and 0. This research aims to provide some insight into the behavior of digital within the social institution of religion. To accomplish these objectives the researchers utilized a Facebook page (Siri Sadaham Ashramaya) and conducted an analysis through the comments from its purposively selected post and it was based on speech act theory elaborated by J. L. Austin (1962) and John Searle (1975). The theoretical approach for this research is the first principle of digital anthropology: dialectic nature of digital culture, developed by Daniel Miller and Heather Horst. A hypothesis was applied as: modern popular Buddhism expand the dialectic nature of culture through social media that consisted of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis as Hegal and Marx stated. The results of the study proved the hypothesis and the opinions of the respective audience’s reactions and comments among the applied Facebook page, and emphasized the dialectical nature of digital culture which means the contribution to the increment of logical background of the culture. Consequently, this study suggests that the modern popular Buddhism concept evolved into a novel concept as “Digital Buddhism” and it can be defined as a new division of Sri Lankan Buddhism as proposed by Gananth Obeyesekere and Richard Gombrich during 1988s. Researchers propose a newly designed model to analyze the digital nature and the theoretical perspective of digital anthropology utilizing the nature of modern popular Buddhism.

KEYWORDS:  anthropology, digital, dialectic, popular Buddhism, culture