The language of religious communication: Empathic encouragement in korea sôka gakkai international (KSGI)

Ji Won Choi, Kee Bom Nahm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research aims to investigate the theoretical significance of the ritual language routinely used among believers in the Korea Sôka Gakkai International (KSGI) by highlighting the social function of the religious language manifested within the religious community. Based on the participant observation of its rituals and religious interactions among congregations at KSGI, we interpret the followers' language of expressing their personal goals and life experiences as religious practices that acquire transcendental significance through the endorsement obtained from peer believers. Followed by a brief discussion on the religious teaching and history of Sôka Gakkai, along with a short summary of our theory and methodology of the study, we explain the background and meaning of empathic encouragement within KSGI, a central concept to be explored in this paper. We find that the trend of attaching empathy to peers' personal life goals and experiences by the KSGI community as a shift of religious focus from transcendental salvation to the realization of individual self-interests to reflect compressed modernization and rapid industrialization. By allowing empathic attachment to private self-interests in the name of religious authority, KSGI manages to organize and sustain its solid religious community, a public space that has been depleted quickly during industrialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Empathic encouragement
  • Everyday discourse
  • Korea Sôka Gakkai International
  • Religious communication language


Dive into the research topics of 'The language of religious communication: Empathic encouragement in korea sôka gakkai international (KSGI)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this