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Religion and Charity
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Free markets alone do not work effectively to solve certain kinds of human problems, such as education, old age care, or disaster relief. Nor have markets ever been the sole solution to the psychological challenges of death, suffering, or injustice. Instead, we find a major role for the non-market institutions of society - the family, the state, and social institutions. The first in-depth anthropological study of charities in contemporary Chinese societies, this book focuses on the unique ways that religious groups have helped to solve the problems of social well-being. Using comparative case studies in China, Taiwan and Malaysia during the 1980s and onwards, it identifies new forms of religious philanthropy as well as new ideas of social 'good', including different forms of political merit-making, new forms of civic selfhood, and the rise of innovative social forms, including increased leadership by women. The book finally argues that the spread of these ideas is an incomplete process, with many alternative notions of goodness continuing to be influential.


'It will provide the roadmap for innovative anthropological theory on the subject of engaged religions in East Asian societies and encourage further research into religious voluntarism and what Joel Robbins calls ‘the anthropology of the good'.'

Dat Manh Nguyen Source: (

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