Fate of the Gods: State Formation, Secularization and the Emergence of Religious Modernities in China and Japan

Doctoral Dissertation


During the process of state formation, states must contend with the symbolic and institutional power of religious organizations and traditions. Similarly, religious institutions compete with modernist movements and other symbolically powerful institutions over what a modern state should be. Out of this process, a variety of approaches toward religion’s role in public life can take shape based on the extent to which religion’s symbolic and ideological resources are both adopted by new states and able to penetrate the revolutionary process. Revolutionary and reformist movements are shaped by a variety of factors that also determine the degree of religious symbolic incorporation. Among these factors, educational systems and networks of political and intellectual activists play crucial roles. Both the timing of educational reform – whether educational Westernization shapes the new state or is shaped by it – and the location of revolutionary foment – in schools drawing on Euro-American intellectual traditions or domestic ones – plays a significant role in the subsequent influence of religious ideological resources. Additionally, whether revolutionary activist networks draw on traditional legitimating discourses and the affinity those have with emerging modernizing frameworks determines whether religion remains politically potent. These factors help account for why China developed a secular-nationalist state under the Nationalist government (1911-1937) and why a sacerdotal state took shape in Meiji Japan (1868-1912). Based on these factors, secularization is only one possible cultural program out of many differing religious modernities.


Attribute NameValues
Author Cole Carnesecca
Contributor Christian Smith, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Sociology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2016-06-13

Submission Date 2016-07-17
  • China

  • Secularization

  • State Formation

  • Religion

  • Modernization

  • Japan

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units

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