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Attraction without networks: Recruiting strangers to unregistered protestantism in China

  • Author(s): Vala, CT
  • O'Brien, KJ
  • et al.

Social movements research points to the role of networks in recruiting intimates and public spaces in recruiting strangers. But for Chinese Protestants, creative outreach strategies can be a substitute for existing relationships and initiate recruitment. In China, public proselytizing is forbidden, religion is rarely mentioned in the media, and direct contact -with potential converts is discouraged. To attract strangers, evangelists in China rely on door-todoor proselytizing in the countryside, cultural performances embedded with religious messages in the cities, and one-on-one conversations when the opportunity arises. By contacting targets in the ordinary flow of life and fashioning appeals using resonant language, Protestant recruiters have become adept at attracting non-networked individuals in "safe-enough" spaces that appear in the creases of a reforming Leninist regime. At a general level, the analysis suggests that networks sometimes play a smaller role in recruitment than is commonly thought, at least at first, and that social bonds may be as much a result of recruitment as a precondition for it. © Mobilization: An International Quarterly.

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