The Tacit Consensus: Regulation and Corporatism in the Local Religious Market of China
People’s Republic of China is pursuing the policy of religious freedom, but it still carry out “regulation” on religious groups. Generally speaking, governmental regulation not only molds the structure of religious market, but also frames the religious institutions. It recognizes the legitimacy of five religions and sets up a series of semi-administrative religious associations to normalize the identity and activities of other organizations of the same religions. For example, institution of Protestant is reconstituted according to the local administrative division by setting up the system of “Two-association” at all levels. On the one hand, this semi-administrative organization demarcates a legitimate and safe sphere for satisfying the religious demand of Christians; on the other hand it becomes the vehicle of implement of religious policy and political control. But the officials of the local religious administrative apparatuses always act with great flexibility in implementing the regulation for both their political achievements and religious harmony in local society. Corporatism exists in the interaction of the local officials and religious groups. In local society, regulation is the general representation of state authority on religions, while corporatism is the contextual choice. S Church, is a rural Protestant church in east Guangdong Province, where the county Two-association is situated. It not only gains rich administrative and religious resources to develop into a regional Christian center, but also acts as the buffering zone to release the possible contradictions between the government and religious groups. From the ethnography of S church’s development, this paper tries to response some propositions of religious economy theory, regarding the relationship of regulation and religious market.
Keywords: Religious market, Regulation, Corporatism, Religious Economy Theory
PhD Candidate, Department of Aisan and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong