Believing through belonging: a sociological study of Christian conversion of Chinese migrants in Britain

2019-10-21T08:51:29Z (GMT) by Richard Li
This study is the first in-depth sociological inquiry into Chinese migrant Christian communities in Britain, through the examination of different pathways to and stages of conversion to Christianity among contemporary Chinese migrants. In the last four decades, the rapid growth of Christianity among the Chinese worldwide has also sparked a growth in academic research. The Chinese has become the fourth largest ethnic minority group in Britain. However, their religious attachments and experiences have hitherto received scant scholarly attention.
The study seeks to fill the identified research gap by providing explorative sociological accounts of the socio-religious dynamics of the Chinese Christian communities in Britain, with a main focus on the issue of religious conversion. It draws on social scientific theories of religious conversion to develop a sequential framework for the documentation of typical conversion trajectories among Chinese Christian converts in Britain. The study takes a qualitative approach, employing in-depth interviews and multi-sited ethnography as the main investigative instruments, documenting three stages, namely, encounter, initiation and commitment, in Christian conversion. It proposes a thesis of believing-through-belonging for the understanding of Christian conversion of Chinese migrants in Britain. Moreover, the thesis points to the commitment-centred conversion, as promulgated by Chinese migrant Christian institutions and practiced by individual Chinese Christians, as a key to understand the continuous growth of Chinese Christian communities in Britain.