Social Scientific Studies of Religion in China

Methodology, Theories, and Findings


Editors: Fenggang Yang and Graeme Lang
The revival of religious belief and practice in China over the past thirty years, after decades of severe repression, has attracted much attention by scholars. Social scientific studies of religion by mainland Chinese scholars has also increased in recent years, using theories and methods developed mainly outside China. Increasingly, mainland scholars are also debating whether theories and concepts developed in western societies are fully appropriate for the study of religion in Chinese societies. This volume presents a selection of papers by sociologists, anthropologists, and historians of religion on these themes. The chapters include rich field studies of particular religions and religious activities, along with theoretical and historical reflections by scholars inside and outside China on problems and opportunities in the revival of the social scientific study of religion in Chinese societies.

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Fenggang Yang (PhD in 1997, the Catholic University of America) is Professor of Sociology and Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in Indiana. His forthcoming book is Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communism (Oxford University Press).

Graeme Lang (PhD in1979, York University) is Professor of Sociology at City University of Hong Kong. His publications on religion in China include The Rise of a Refugee God: Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin (Oxford University Press, 1993).
Graeme Lang and Fenggang Yang
Part I: Methodological and Theoretical Challenges
Chapter 1: Thirty Years of Religious Studies in China
He Guanghu
Chapter 2: History as a Factor in the Social Scientific Study of Chinese Religion
J. Gordon Melton
Chapter 3: Explanations of International Differences in Rleigion That May Apply to China
V.A. Daniel Olson
Chapter 4: The Dilemma of Chinese Religious Studies within the Framework of Western Religious Theories
Fan Lizhu
Chapter 5: Religion in China: Some Introductory Notes for the Intrepid Western Scholar
Eileen Barker
Chapter 6: Local Ritual Traditions of Southeast China: A Challenge to Definitions of Religion and Theories of Ritual
Kenneth Dean
Part II: Identities, Organizations, and Societies
Chapter 7: Contemporary Chinese Beliefs and Spiritual Pursuits Today
Yuan Yue
Chapter 8: Exploring the Relationship between Religion and Ethnicity in China
He Qimlin
Chapter 9: From Grassroots Association to Civil Society Organization: A Case Study of the Hebei Province Dragon Tablet Fair
Gao Bingzhong and Ma Qiang
Chapter 10: On the Problem of Developing a Mechanism for the Participation of Religion in the Social Services Sector
Liu Peng
Chapter 11: Religion and Environmentalism in Chinese Societies
Graeme Lang and Lu Yunfeng
Chapter 12: Secular State and Religious Society in Mainland China and Taiwan
Richard Madsen
Scholars, students, journalists, and religious professionals interested in the revival of religion and of social scientific studies of religion in contemporary China.