"Twists of fate: growth trajectories of Catholicism and Protestantism in Modern China compared"

Religious Diversity Colloquium Spring/Summer 2017

  • Date: Jun 13, 2017
  • Time: 14:00 - 15:30
  • Speaker: Yanfei Sun (Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
  • Yanfei Sun received her PhD in sociology from University of Chicago in 2010. She is currently associate professor of sociology at Zhejiang University. Her research interests include sociology of religion and political sociology. In addition to religious changes in modern China, she also researches on religious movement, global expansion of Christianity, religious toleration, religious nationalism, and ethno-religious violence.
  • Location: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 12, Göttingen
  • Room: Conference Room
"Twists of fate: growth trajectories of Catholicism and Protestantism in Modern China compared"

For more details please contact vdvoffice(at)mmg.mpg.de.

This talk compares the growth trajectories of Catholicism and Protestantism in the history of modern China and tackles the puzzle: Why did Catholicism, which maintained a big lead in the number of Chinese converts over Protestantism before 1949, become so lagged behind Protestantism today? The talk identifies three crucial differences in the institutional features of the two religions. But it also shows that an argument that only examines institutional features is insufficient to explain the twists of the fate for the two religions. It argues the effect of the institutional features is contingent on the macro-structural conditions shaped largely by state politics. In other words, the growth trajectories of Catholicism and Protestantism changed less because their institutional features have changed significantly, but more because the institutional features played out differently under the political environment before 1949, under the Maoist regime, and under the post-Mao state, resulting in the different growth dynamics of the religions, leading to the eclipse of Catholicism by Protestantism in the post-Mao era.

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