Honorable mention, 2019 ASA Section of the Sociology of Religion’s Distinguished Book Award
Includes chapter awarded the 2013 ASA Sociology of Religion Section Graduate Student Paper Award
Teaching Guide, created with the help of Hamilton College’s 2018 Sociology of Religion course.
"The Mindful Elite is an important contribution for its careful and creative assessment of the mindfulness movement, showing how an elite-driven alterative movement for cultural change worked its way into the upper-echelons of major institutions of capitalist America. The connections between the 1960s/1970s counterculture and many contemporary institutional elites--in business, military, medicine, education, sports--are as interesting and provocative as they are ironic. Kucinskas has skillfully excavated a fascinating and understudied form of movement and contributes to our understanding of movement-induced cultural change in the process." --Larry Isaac, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Sociology, Vanderbilt University
"Challenging conventional wisdom about social movements,Kucinskas turns attention away from outsiders and confrontational tactics to focus on the contemplative movement, led by privileged institutional entrepreneurs who have used insider--consensus-based tactics to take Buddhist practices'mainstream'--thus changing the meaning of mindfulness. A must-read for scholars of religion and movements, and anyone interested in cultural appropriation and transformation." --Penny Edgell, Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota
"Kucinskas analyzes strategies used to embed quasi-Buddhist values and practices in secular institutions from Monsanto and Google to public education and the military, and offers even-handed assessments of the effectiveness of programs and their impact on American Buddhism. A probing look at an important phenomenon and a solid contribution to the critical bibliography on 'convert'Buddhism."--Richard Seager, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Hamilton College
"The Mindful Elite hits the target on many fronts. A three-fold community of contemplatives, clinicians, and academics has emerged and, for the most part, directs and filters what is acceptable in the creation of the mindfulness juggernaut. While there is a commonality among them, they do diverge somewhat in how to use the practices within their communities. This divergence perhaps unintentionally contributes to confusion for the everyday person leaving them easily taken in by media hype and misunderstanding of what mindfulness can accomplish.
Kucinskas' book is a painful and validating read - at least it was for me - as it shines the light on the many ways honourable intentions can become subverted to the degree that it has been in the mindfulness community. Still, it is good to be reminded that the birth intention of this path was and is the desire to transform suffering - individual and collective. Kucinskas has done well to name the beast and, hopefully, keep us from continuing to be devoured by it." Dr. Lynette Monteiro, Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic
The Mindful Elite: Mobilizing from the Inside Out is an excellent book that describes the success and limitations of the contemplative movement in the U.S. It will attract readers from different theoretical and empirical perspectives who are interested in religion and spirituality, such as Eastern religions, spirituality, cultural diffusion and religious movements. While it would be an excellent reader for graduate-level seminars, The Mindful Elite is also highly accessible. Di Di, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Santa Clara University, Review of Religious Research 2019
The Mindful Elite is an excellent work, a central text for the study of contemporary spirituality. Advanced undergraduates and graduate students will find much to glean from this in learning more about how social movements are studied, how the movements themselves gain legitimacy, and how they retain their influence over the course of years. Kucinskas’ work invites readers to reflect on how their daily experiences and vernacular language are rife with connections to religious and spiritually inspired movements that captured the imaginations of the middle and upper classes in other eras . . . The Mindful Elite stands as the key investigation of the contemplative movement and builds our knowledge base of how such movements impact the lives of millions. Jerry Z. Park, Baylor University, Sociology of Religion 2019
The Mindful Elite is really great contribution to social movement studies and the social scientific analysis of religion. Her basic puzzle is this: Religious change is usually a very contentious process, but Buddhism and meditation in America appeared with relatively little struggle. Why? Based on field work at meditation organizations and interviews with leaders, she argues that Eastern meditative practices appeared in America as a result of a quiet mobilization among elites in academia and science. Fabio Rojas, Indiana University, Bloomington, Orgtheory.net