Urban Religion and Civil Society in the People’s Republic of China

Name: Ian Johnson
Email: iandjohnson@gmail.com
Thema: Urban Religion and Civil Society in the People's Republic of China
Beschreibung:

Can urban Chinese folk religious organizations be considered examples of civil society? And if so how do they differ from classic examples of civil society suggested by scholars?
This thesis posits that a study of sixty pilgrimage associations in the greater Beijing region centered on Miaofengshan will show that some of these groups are fragile examples of civil society, even as the government tries to coopt them as part of a national campaign to bolster legitimacy by embracing traditional faiths. And while these groups do not have direct political goals, they are part of a broader effort by religious communities to expand freedom of belief and individual agency over key moral questions that the state seeks to shape.
In addition, this work explores the role of invented traditions in today’s China. After more than a century of cultural destruction, state and society are racing to rebuild traditional teachings and faiths–Buddhism, Daoism, and folk religions. These players have differing interests: the state sees faith as a form of legitimacy, while the religious associations see it as a form of link that gives their members a sense of security and continuity with the past. But both are recreating an imagined or idealized past, one that can be useful in filling a widely perceived spiritual vacuum in 21st century China.