Chinese Redemptive Societies and Salvationist Religion: Historical Phenomenon or Sociological Category?

David A. Palmer. “Chinese Redemptive Societies and Salvationist Religion: Historical Phenomenon or Sociological Category?” Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 172 (2011.6): 21-72.
宗樹人。〈民國救世團體與中國救度宗教:歷史現象還是社會學類別?〉。《民俗曲藝》172 (2011.6): 21-72


This paper outlines a conceptual framework for research on Chinese redemptive societies and salvationist religion. I begin with a review of past scholarship on Republican era salvationist movements and their contemporary communities, comparing their treatment in three bodies of scholarly literature dealing with the history and scriptures of “popular sects” in the late imperial era, the history of “secret societies” of the Republican period, and the ethnography of “popular religion” in the contemporary Chinese world. I then assess Prasenjit Duara’s formulation of “redemptive societies” as a label for a constellation of religious groups active in the republican period, and, after comparing the characteristics of the main groups in question (such as the Tongshanshe, Daoyuan, Yiguandao and others), argue that an analytical distinction needs to be made between “salvationist movements” as a sociological category, which have appeared throughout Chinese history and until today, and redemptive societies as one historical instance of a wave of salvationist movements, which appeared in the Republican period and bear the imprint of the socio-cultural conditions and concerns of that period. Finally, I discuss issues for future research and the significance of redemptive societies in the social, political and intellectual history of modern China, and in the modern history of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.

本文嘗試勾勒有關中國救世團體及救度宗教之研究的概念框架。首先,本文回顧民國年間的救度運動及其衍生的現代社群,並比較三組學術研究的處理角度:()明清「民間教門」 (popular sects) 的歷史與寶卷研究;()民國時期「秘密會社」 (secret societies) 的歷史研究;以及()當下華人社會的「民間信仰」(popular religion) 的民族志研究。本文析述杜贊奇提出的「救世團體」(redemptive societies) 概念,作為描述活躍於民國時期的一群特殊宗教團體的標籤。在比較主要例子(例如同善社、道院、一貫道之類)的特性後,本文主張把文首提到的兩個概念作出明確的學術區分:「救度宗教」指一社會學類型,並一直在中國歷史中出現,延續至今;而「救世團體」指出現於19111949年間的一次救度宗教浪潮,且帶有當時特定的社會文化因素。最後,本文將探討救世團研究在近代中國社會、政治及思想史,以及近代儒、道、佛等宗教歷史研究的意義和重要性。