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Religion in ChinaSurvival and Revival under Communist Rule$
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Fenggang Yang

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199735655

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735655.001.0001

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A Definition of Religion for the Social-Scientific Study of Religion

A Definition of Religion for the Social-Scientific Study of Religion

(p.24) (p.25) 2 A Definition of Religion for the Social-Scientific Study of Religion
Religion in China

Fenggang Yang

Oxford University Press

Chapter Two presents a definition of religion combined with a classification scheme, which is needed for the political economic approach in the social scientific study of religion that examines religion and its competitive alternatives within the larger society. “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices about life and the world relative to the supernatural that unite the believers or followers into a social organization or moral community.” “This definition includes four essential elements of a religion: (1) a belief in the supernatural; (2) a set of beliefs regarding life and the world; (3) a set of ritual practices manifesting the beliefs; and (4) a distinct social organization or moral community of the believers and practitioners. It differentiates developed religion from quasi-religion of folk religion and civil religion, and pseudo-religion of personality cults and political ideologies.

Keywords:   belief, ritual, the supernatural, moral community, religious organization, magic, folk religion, civil religion, Durkheim

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