East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

February 17, 2010
by campus

Feb 23

Workshop on East Asia: Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“The Survival and Revival of Religion under Chinese Communist Rule: A Shortage Economy Explanation”

Professor Fenggang Yang

Director, Center on Religion and Chinese Society, Purdue University

4:00-5:30pm, Tuesday

February 23, 2010

Pick Lounge

5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang, Cheol-sung Lee, Dingxin Zhao

The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.


Religions in China survived eradication measures in the 1960s and 1970s and have been reviving despite restrictive regulations and frequent crackdowns in the reform era since the late 1970s.  This is totally at odds with the classic secularization theories that predict religious decline and demise along with modernization.  Nor is the currently dominant supply-side economic theory adequate to explain the failure of religious suppression in Communist-ruled China.  Instead, I propose a political economy explanation.  Borrowing János Kornai’s economics of shortage regarding consumer behaviors, I argue that the religious changes in China are predominately driven by the rising demand for religion.

The Reading can be downloaded here:

Yang, Fenggang. 2009. “Religion in China under Communism: A Shortage Economy Explanation.” The Journal of Church and State 52 (1). http://jcs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/csp042?ijkey=Uqi4S7LEUQJLhcz&keytype=ref