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Ghosts, gods and pirates : local elite and popular religion in South China

Local elite and popular religion in South China

Authors Ma, Jianxiong
Issue Date 2000
Summary This study focuses on the relationship between the local elite and their interpretation of popular religious activities. Local elite, in general, is a social stratum. The local elite control resources in Chinese villages and hold power as given by the state. Sometimes, they are organizers of religious activities. Through the description of religious activities from the field setting --- the town of Shenao which is located on Nanao Island in the Chaozhou region on the boundary between Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, the thesis discusses how local elite perform flexible roles in local society. In a frontier environment, local elite use popular religion as a means for seeking power and to deal with the relationship between the state and the masses in a flexible way. In the era after 1979, temples' directors, geomancers and holders of monastery comprise a new group with cadres as a local elite. Earlier studies on patterns of local elite such as theories of political brokers, state agents and the pattern of mutual obligation relationship of patron and client under the system of socialist harvest distribution could be reconsidered in the 1990s. New mutual obligation relationships between the representatives of the administrative power and the representative of money have appeared. Popular religious activities set a stage for local elite to organize social activities for rural political claim. The style of becoming local elite should be put into the local social historical context. The case study reported in this thesis shows that defining local elite in a fixed pattern is not incomplete way.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2000
Language English
Format Thesis
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