China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Mapping the Popularity of Han Buddhism vs. Tibetan Buddhism on Weibo

Friday, March 23
12:45 PM - 2:45 PM
Location: Park Tower 8216, Lobby Level

Social surveys show that there are more Chinese self-identifying with Buddhism than any other religion. For example, the Chinese Spiritual Life Survey conducted by HorizonKey in 2007 includes more than 18 percent of respondents are self-identified Buddhists. Chinese media coverage of Buddhism includes both positive praises of Buddhism as an important part of the traditional culture and negative criticism of commercialization of Buddhist temples and corrupt monks. Interestingly, Tibetan Buddhism has become popular in the eastern urban centers such as Beijing and Shanghai, where many itinerary Rinpoches [living Buddhas] provide spiritual instructions to business people and white-color professionals. However, the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism in eastern parts of China (藏密东渐) is regarded as a security threat by the authorities, which have implemented an online database to verify the authenticity of Rinpoches. This paper maps the popularity of Han Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism on Weibo, examining the space and time distribution of positive and negative sentiments, and assessing the influence of the state control on different types of Buddhism.

Fenggang Yang

Purdue University, Indiana

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4 - Mapping the Popularity of Han Buddhism vs. Tibetan Buddhism on Weibo



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