Purdue University



The Institutionalization of Christian Communities and Their Social Engagement: Case Studies on Two Kinds of Christian Institutions in Beijing

ZHONG Zhifeng

Ph.D. Student, Political Science, Baylor University, USA



The integration of faith and work, the increase of social engagement (termed societalization), and the transformation of house churches from a diffused network to an institutional entity (termed institutionalization) have been very notable since China’sOpen and Reform movement. However, this phenomenon has not been studied much. The project will use an ethnographic approach to studying two kinds of Christian institutions so as to address the following question: How do fragmented regulations interact with other institutional factors to shape the different institutionalization and societalization of two kinds of Christian institutions: institutions of Christian lawyers and those of Christian businesspeople.

I will use religious career as a key concept in analyzing the evolution of Christian movements in China.  Archive research, interviews, questionnaires, and participatory observations will be used to collect the data. As exploratory research, this project will make a significant contribution to the study of religions under communism, Christianity and civil society, as well as social transformation (modernization) and religious evolution. This project will help us understand why the regulations failed and how the house churches have grown in their institutionalization and social engagement. Therefore, it will offer guidance for further religious legislation and policy revision.

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