This paper is an interpretation of the regulation of religions in China as a form of industrial organization, with the relationship of Chinese regulation of the five legal religions as either a regulated monopoly or an oligopoly. It analogizes the legal relationship between the Chinese government and the five legal religions with the legal status of Chinese state-owned enterprises as the laws governing social organizations including religious organizations, much like the laws governing state-owned enterprises are important incentives the influence the behavior of groups as a whole. The behavior of religious groups will be discussed through economic language interpreting the relationship to be wither reflective of a regulated monopoly where the relationship is likely to focus on a religion’s monopoly over a group of adherents with little competition, as well as an oligopoly, where some, limited forms of competition between the religions exist. This type of oligopolistic competition for government benefits is known as “rent-seeking.” This paper also explores the illegal and nonlegal religious movements, arguing that these underground religious groups form a sort of “informal religious economy” given the structural constraints placed on these religious groups.
Student, School of Law, Emory University, United States
I am a law student at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and am currently Assistant Managing Editor for Special Content for the Journal of Law and Religion. Prior to law school, I worked with the China Program at The Carter Center. While an undergraduate student at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, USA, I conducted three independent research projects studying religious freedom, religious identity, and religion and development in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, India, and China. I spent the Autumn Semester of 2014 at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, during which I worked with the Mission for Migrant Workers, an advocacy orgnaization for migrant workers in Hong Kong. My interests include the intersection of law and religion, religious pluralism, the influence of religion in legal history, and law and religion in the Asian context.