The religious world in Chinese social studies textbooks

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The purpose of this study is to explore the representation and interpretation of the religious world in Chinese social studies textbooks. The data cover six major subjects at both primary and secondary levels. The findings indicate that although the Constitution of the People's Republic of China mandates a separation of religion and education, Chinese textbooks introduce students to a variety of religious traditions. These traditions are either presented as independent learning units or integrated with textbook content across subjects. Three discursive frames are used to categorise the information selected to represent religion and its interpretation in the discourse of Chinese curriculum texts: a de-mystification frame (deconstructing the mystery of religion and presenting a secular understanding of the religious world); a de-modernisation frame (representing religion as associated with pre-modernity); and a science/humanities frame (comprising two lenses for interpreting religion). The findings of the study suggest that although the framing of religion in China's social studies curriculum reflects the state's secularisation agenda, it also leaves space for further exploration of the meaning of religion. Copyright © 2018 Christian Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-223
JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
Issue number2
Early online dateSept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Zhao, Z. (2020). The religious world in Chinese social studies textbooks. British Journal of Religious Education, 42(2), 214-223. doi: 10.1080/01416200.2018.1516195


  • Religion
  • China
  • Textbooks
  • Secularization


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