Why do some religious groups in China challenge state power while others cooperate with the government? Drawing on national survey data and comparative case studies from contemporary rural China, this research finds that contentious collective actions are less likely to occur in villages with religious groups that simultaneously overlap with secular social organizations and local authorities. Moreover, it reveals that religious groups with different varieties of social capital tend to play different roles in contentious collective actions, and those containing all three varieties of social capital (bonding, bridging, and linking) are more likely to serve as credible communication channels between local states and discontented citizens. These findings highlight two important issues that are often side-lined in the existing literature. First, the relationship between religious groups and contentious collective action is diverse rather than uniform. Second, this relationship is shaped not only by religious groups but also by other important players in the local political arena.
Dr Yu Tao is the coordinator of Chinese Studies in the University of Western Australia, where he teaches contemporary Chinese society and politics in both English and Chinese. He was trained as a political sociologist in Universities of Beijing, Cambridge, and Oxford, and his research primarily focuses on the interactions between religious groups, civic organisations and local state agencies in contemporary Chinese society and overseas Chinese communities.
All attendees are invited to join us in the CIW Tea House from 3.30pm for an informal discussion with the guest speaker before the seminar.
The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the China Institute and the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific.