The last few decades have seen the rise of grassroots groups of lay Buddhists in post-Mao China who, through the composition, exchange, and discussion of Buddhist-themed media, foster moral discourses that critique what they perceive as the materialistic direction of contemporary Chinese society. Disseminated at legal but unregulated spaces within Buddhist temples, these discourses empower the economically marginalized lay practitioners who gather there and provide them with new purpose in life. Practitioners are also able to transmit these moral discourses through networks to other temple spaces. However, they do not yet possess the means to use them to influence the social direction of Chinese society at large. This is due to (1) political restrictions against the circulation of religious-themed materials outside of approved religious activity sites; (2) economic obstacles faced by the practitioners who seek to spread anti-materialistic messages; (3) a lack of organizational cohesiveness among the practitioners; and (4) the influence on practitioners of doctrines within Buddhism that caution against proselytizing to those who do not already possess a pre-fated bond with the Buddha and his teachings. As a result, lay Buddhists do not as yet constitute a social movement in the way the term is conventionally used by sociologists.
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