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Religious Reconfigurations in the People's Republic of China

China’s Religious Danwei

Institutionalising Religion in the People’s Republic
David A. Palmer


This article is a study of the continuities and changes in the state-led institutionalisation of religion in the PRC from 1979 to 2009 and their effects on the structuring of China’s religious field. A normative discourse on religion is constituted by a network of Party leaders, officials, academics, and religious leaders. Official religious institutions have become hybrids of religious culture with the institutional habitus of work units ( danwei) in the socialist market economy. A wide range of religious practices have found legitimacy under secular labels such as health, science, culture, tourism, or heritage. Religious affairs authorities have begun to acknowledge the existence of this expanding realm of religious life, and to accord discursive legitimacy to the previously stigmatised or ignored categories of popular religion and new religions, but hesitate to propose an explicit change in policy.

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Electronic reference

David A. Palmer, « China’s Religious Danwei », China Perspectives [Online], 2009/4 | 2009, Online since 01 December 2012, connection on 24 June 2018. URL :

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David A. Palmer

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