Purdue University



Catholicism and Civil Society: A Comparative Study of Privatization and De-privatization of the Catholic Church in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taipei

HAO Zhidong

Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Macau



What roles religion or religious groups may play in civil society building and how they play these roles are becoming increasingly important issues to study, whether in China or elsewhere. This proposed study is one of these efforts. Specifically, we would like to explore the role of the Catholic Church in building civil society in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taipei. We hypothesize that both positive and negative regulations affect the extent to which the Catholic Church engages in civic activities. Furthermore, this structural factor interacts with cultural factors, such as the form and strength of Catholic values and beliefs, in affecting the Catholic Church’s behavior in civic engagement. And the roles of the bishops and priests can be equally important since they are the people who interpret the culture and represent the Church in its response to the structure. In order to find out the intricate relationship between Catholicism and civil society in greater China, we will do surveys and interviews to find out how the Church engages in civic activities and what the factors are that influence its civic engagement. In the end, we will produce five papers, one for each area, and one for comparison. We believe that the project will not only describe and explain the relationship between the Catholic Church and civil society in greater China but will also help the churches, the government, and other civil society organizations to coordinate their politics and policies.

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