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Title: The education of Taoist priests in contemporary Shanghai
Author: Yang, Der-Ruey.
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis is an analysis of the means by which Taoism as an ancient religious tradition is reproduced in contemporary Shanghai - the largest commercial metropolis in 'post-socialist' China. More specifically, it investigates the tension between "modern schooling" and "traditional apprenticeship" in the state-sponsored formal schooling of Taoist priests organized by the Shanghai Taoist Association through its affiliated school - the Shanghai Taoist College. Through examining the institutional context, the teaching/learning practices, and the politico-economic conditions of modem Taoist schooling, this thesis argues that the modern Taoist schooling is actually a measure of Chinese government to impose its programme of modernization by 'modernizing' or 'reinventing' rather than to 'perpetuating' Taoist tradition. It tends to impart Taoist novices with a modern habitus, which is characterized by the inanimate, alienating temporality and its associative knowledge paradigm corresponding to the irresponsive, rigid, socialist public-supply economy. However, modern Taoist schooling does not succeed in transforming current Taoist priests as its modernizing effect is first neutralized by the most essential and most traditional module of their curriculum - ritual skill training - and then further sabotaged by the traditional economic pattern that the graduate students must adopt for survival. Hence, although modem schooling and its relevant institutions do effect a major impact on official Taoism in current Shanghai, current Taoist priests nevertheless gradually take up the characteristic habitus of their predecessors - with an the animistic, responsive temporality, a knowledge paradigm based on practical skills, and a mixed politico-economy that incorporates market economy, gift economy, and tributary economy. As a result, despite some setbacks caused by the state's modernization programme, the traditions of Taoism are still thriving - in various syncretic forms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available