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Keywords:

  • Chinese;
  • folk (popular) religion;
  • China;
  • Taiwan;
  • measurement

The revival of folk (popular) religion in China in the last three decades has been noted in many publications and documented in ethnographic studies. However, until now there has been no quantitative study that provides an overall picture of Chinese folk-religion practices. This article is a first attempt to draw the contours of Chinese folk religion based on three recent surveys conducted in mainland China and Taiwan. Three types of folk religion are conceptualized: communal, sectarian, and individual. Different types of folk religion may have different social functions and divergent trajectories of change in the modernization process. At present, in spite of the dramatic social, political, and cultural changes in modern times, the adherents of folk religion still substantially outnumber the believers of institutional religions in Chinese societies.