Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Steven Vose

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Iqbal Akhtar

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Erik Larson

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Ownership, ethics, Jainism, Quakerism, ascetic, laity, lay, community, communal policing

Date of Defense



This thesis examines how lay members of the Jain and Quaker traditions understand and navigate ideals of non-ownership. The tenets of aparigraha (non-ownership) and the testimony of simplicity are explored to show how interpretation of sacred texts leave open the possibility for financial success.

Through interviews with members of Jain and Quaker communities in the US, and textual research, I assert that proper methods for earning, maintaining and using capital in each tradition transcend prohibitions against excess accumulation. Following Foucault and Weber, I show that proper ethical ways of earning and spending money depend on community-based interpretations and self-policing.

My research suggests that lay members focus on ethical ways to earn and spend money rather than the amount of wealth they possess. Due to these foci, transgressions of ideals are viewed within community-established norms, which maintain high levels of engagement with both the capital world and their own religious tradition.





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