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The Dilemma Of Pursuing Chinese Religious Studies Within The Framework Of Western Religious Theories

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Chapter Summary

The relative opening up of China following the "Ten Lost Years" of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) has offered Western sociologists of religion an unprecedented opportunity to observe and study new (to the West) ways of being religious (and non-religious) within a particular kind of atheistic regime. This chapter presents some introductory background information on China's historical and cultural development. It then discusses several basic methodological points regarding comparative approaches to the concept of religion. The chapter also identifies some of the unnecessary mistakes which may be found in both Western and Chinese accounts of religion, concentrating particularly on "religion" and related concepts. Finally it offers no more than a suggestion of some of the discoveries, questions, and obstacles that greet the Western sociologist of religion fascinated by the richness and diversity of China and its culture and religions.

Keywords:Chinese religion; cultural revolution; Western sociologists



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