Folk religion in Chinese societies

Submitted by James Miller on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 18:12
James Miller's picture
TitleFolk religion in Chinese societies
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsHu, A.
Corporate AuthorsYang, Fenggang
Academic DepartmentProQuest Dissertations and Theses
Date Published2012
PublisherPurdue University
Place PublishedUnited States -- Indiana
ISBN Number9781267740564
Keywords0318:Religion, 0342:Asian Studies, 0631:Ethnic studies, 0700:Social structure, China, Folk religion, Philosophy, religion and theology, SOCIAL sciences

This dissertation consists of three main chapters which investigate folk religion in Chinese societies (mainland and Taiwan). Field research performed in many parts China has documented the revival of folk religious practices and beliefs, but until now few rigorous quantitative studies have been performed to investigate its demographic characteristics, longitudinal trajectories, and civic functions. This dissertation studies these aspects of Chinese folk religion. Chapter 2 examines the number of folk religion adherents and their demographic characteristics in both mainland and Taiwan. The results suggest that in spite of the dramatic social, political, and cultural changes in modern times, the adherents of folk religion still substantially outnumber the believers of institutional religions in Chinese societies. Chapter 3 revisits Weber's classic discussion about disenchantment and recent theoretical development in the religious market approach about the failure of folk religion on a free religious market. In particular, Chapter 3 examines the longitudinal trends of different types of folk religion in Taiwan between 1990 and 2009. The findings highlight the decline of communal folk religion and the growth of certain types of individual folk religion. Chapter 4 focuses on the civic functions of different types of folk religion. Members of sectarian folk religion are found to be more likely to get involved in volunteering within religious organizations while participants of individual folk religion have significantly higher propensity to donate to both religious and secular organizations.