The Cultural and Legal Factors in the Religious Disputes during the Late Imperial China and the Early Republican Period: a Weberian Comparative Sociology of Missionary Case, Temple Destruction and Confiscation Campaigns, and Confucian Church Movement

  • Tsai, Po-Fang (PI)

Project: A - Government Institutionb - National Science and Technology Council

Project Details


The reception of “citizenship” concept in Chinese societies is different from that in Western societies. The main condition of introducing citizen concept in the late imperial China was the dissolution of the literati-gentry’s privilege, rather than the relevancy of civil-religion tradition in the Western societies. Therefore, this project attempts to investigate the complicated ways by which the Confucian literati and local gentry mediated the legal disputes among the religious pluralism—Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhism, Daoism—from the late Qing dynasty to the early Republician period. During the conflict events between different religious groups, the Confucian group also went through a self-transformation, with both legal and cultural ways. In this project, I first develop and elaborate Max Weber’s sociological framework, then make three theoretical cases from religious disputes in Chinese history—Missionary Cases, Temple Destruction and Confiscation Campaigns, and Confucian Church Movement—as the object of research. Besides, I choose comparative-historical analysis as research method, and collect data from five sources: litigation archive, modern Chinese newspaper and journal, official documents from key person and the Qing court, materials from local history, and contemporary scholar’s works. With my research design, I have three main tasks in this research project: 1. To delineate the religious-pluralism circumstance and inter-dynamic, in which Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhism, Daoism coexisted together, and the impact of the three main religious events (Missionary Cases, Temple Destruction and Confiscation Campaigns, and Confucian Church Movement) carried on different religious groups during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republician period of Chinese society. 2. To analyze the interactive process within the religious pluralism in term of legal dispute, the changes of the five religions in modern China, and their changing cultural status and social figure before and after the litigations. 3. To elaborate the transformation of Confucianism when facing the impacts of other religions, a shift from Confucianism as a religion in order to manage all the religious affairs to Confucianism as a culture withdrawing from the religious discursive field.
Effective start/end date12/1/167/31/17


  • Max Weber
  • Confucian Literati and Local Gentry
  • Missionary Cases
  • Temple Destruction and Confiscation Campaigns
  • Confucian Church Movement


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