Beyond the west : religion, conformity, and subjective well-being in contemporary Chinese society.
Liu, Eric Y.
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Ongoing revival of religion in Chinese society provides a rare opportunity for testing controversial sociological theories in a non-Western, non-Christian context. The goal of my dissertation is to examine the complex links between religion, social conformity, and subjective well-being, using nationally representative data sets from mainland China and Taiwan. This dissertation divides into six chapters. Chapter 1 reviews the core theoretical debates in the sociology of religion and religious trends in Chinese society. Chapter 2 investigates whether Chinese persons with greater risk-taking tendency are less religious relative to others. Chapter 3 focuses on the relationships between religiosity and personal feelings of mastery. Chapter 4 analyzes the associations between multidimensional religious involvement and personal happiness. Chapter 5 examines the linkages of fatalistic voluntarism, a core component of theological fatalism, and life satisfaction. Chapter 6 summarizes the findings, discusses their implications, and suggests a future research agenda. As will be shown, my findings generally support the rational choice perspectives, the new paradigm in the sociology. In Taiwan’s overwhelmingly religious atmosphere, for instance, risk preference seems to be a significant correlate of active religiousness. Moreover, religious beliefs and practices are generally beneficial for personal mastery and subjective well-being among the Chinese. This dissertation speaks directly to the central theoretical issues in the sociology of religion, fills the void in previous research, and stimulates future cross-cultural studies on religion, social conformity, and mental health.