Religious Groups, Varieties of Social Capital and Contentious Politics

Tao, Yu orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6289-9969 (2015) Religious Groups, Varieties of Social Capital and Contentious Politics. In: The 111th American Political Science Aossciation Annual Meeting, 3 -6 September, San Francisco.

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Drawing upon representative quantitative data and in-depth qualitative materials, this paper compares the roles that monotheist and polytheist groups play in contentious politics and conflict resolution in contemporary rural China.
It confirms that polytheist and monotheist groups are indeed different in terms of their relationship with the probability of collective contention in Chinese villages. However, in opposite to the prediction of existing literature, the apparent more subversive monotheist groups tend to be negatively correlated with transgressive conflicts in local communities, whereas polytheist groups, which are normally regarded as indigenous and more inclusive, tend to be positively correlated with collective contention on the grassroots level. To make sense of this apparent contradictory, this paper then investigates the
mechanisms that differentiate the roles of different religious groups in contentious politics and conflict resolution. According to the comparative case studies, other things being equal, religious groups that simultaneously overlap with secular organisations and local authorities (i.e. include active members of secular organisations and local authorities as religious groups members) are more proactive and effective than are other religious groups in conflict mediating, regardless the faiths they practice. However, although religious faith may not have a direct impact on how religious groups choose to behave in the face of local conflicts, it does play an indirect but important role in shaping the structural conditions that facilitate the actions taken by religious groups in contentious politics.

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