Entrepreneurial Logics and the Evolution of Falun Gong

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Abstract:

This article documents the shift of Falun Gong from a primarily secular healing system to a new religion centering on salvation. Emerging as a qigong organization in China in the early 1990s that provided immediate healing treatments to practitioners, Falun Gong eventually developed into a salvation-oriented religious firm. Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, played a vital role in promoting the movement's transition. Facing the competitive qigong market, Mr. Li decided to differentiate Falun Gong from other competing qigong movements by offering a theory about salvation. He also adopted other organizational and doctrinal mechanisms that are useful in sustaining practitioners and preventing potential schisms. These strategies partly accounted for the growth of Falun Gong in the 1990s. This case study indicates that the religious economy model is helpful in understanding the evolution of Falun Gong, a new religion in contemporary China.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00274.x

Affiliations: Postdoctoral Research fellow at the Center for Religious Inquiry Across the Disciplines and Sociology Department of Baylor University.

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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