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The Cultural Economy of Falun Gong in China

A Rhetorical Perspective

Ming Xiao

Publication Year: 2012

Emerging in China in the early 1990s, Falun Gong is viewed by its supporters as a folk movement promoting the benefits of good health and moral cultivation. To the Chinese establishment, however, it is a dissident religious cult threatening political orthodoxy and national stability. The author, a Chinese national once involved in implementing Chinese cultural policies, examines the evolving relationship between Falun Gong and Chinese authorities in a revealing case study of the powerful public discourse between a pervasive political ideology and an alternative agenda in contention for cultural dominance. Posited as a cure for culturally bound illness with widespread symptoms, the Falun Gong movement's efficacy among the marginalized relies on its articulation of a struggle against government sanctioned exploitation in favor of idealistic moral aspirations. In countering such a position, the Chinese government alleges that the religious movement is based in superstition and pseudoscience. Aided by her insider perspective, the author deftly employs Western rhetorical methodology in a compelling critique of an Eastern rhetorical occurrence, highlighting how authority confronts challenge in postsocialist China.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Series: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. ix-x

Falun Gong is a folk religion founded in the People’s Republic of China in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. Falun Gong appears to have grown rapidly, provoking strong opposition from the Chinese state and the Communist Party. Li Hongzhi left China in 1995; in 1999 the government declared Falun Gong an illegal organization. ...

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pp. xi-xii

This book would not have come to fruition without the wisdom and help of teachers, colleagues, and friends. I wish to express my gratitude to all who made this project a success. I first want to thank Dr. John Lyne, my former academic adviser, who continued to assist me long after I had completed my graduate studies. ...

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pp. 1-7

What is Falun Gong? Its leaders call it a folk religious group that promotes a health regimen and moral cultivation. Its supporters view it as an organization of religious dissenters that challenges the orthodoxy of the official establishment. Its ideologues say it is an inevitable product of China’s transition to a market economy. ...

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One: The Rise of Falun Gong

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pp. 8-31

Since its inception in 1992, Falun Gong has attracted a large number of Chinese followers. At its height, from 1996 to April 1999, it claimed to have a membership of between 70 million and 100 million practitioners.1 Members of Falun Gong come from all walks of life: college students, scholars, workers, merchants, and peasants. ...

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Two: Challenging Contemporary Political Culture: Falun Gong’s Departure from Marxist Materialism, Authoritarianism, and Scientism

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pp. 32-50

Falun Gong upholds a moral code that many scholars consider a critique of hegemonic thought. The movement challenges the basic assumptions of contemporary Communist political culture: Marxist materialism, authoritarianism, and scientism, which are the ideological bedrock of the official orthodoxy. ...

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Three: Why Is Falun Gong Popular?

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pp. 51-68

Chine during the 1990s was in an era of postsocialism.1 In such times communist ideology declines, and economic activities prevail. While it faced more challenges from the citizenry, the leadership clung to its old Marxist ideology and continued efforts to safeguard its legitimacy. ...

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Four: As Powerful as Weapons: The Use of Tropes as Ideological Instruments

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pp. 69-81

When traditions are passed down, questions can arise concerning how later generations interpret the intentions of the people who established these customs. Do subsequent teachings remain faithful to the original vision of the classics? To use Benjamin Schwartz’s term, do they recapture that vision in its “pristine freshness”? ...

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Five: “Wildfire won’t wipe it out—Spring wind blows it back”: The Transfiguration of the Political Sensibility of the Chinese People

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pp. 82-104

Once it assumed power in 1949, the Chinese Communist leadership implemented an efficient political-socialization process that was successful un til the introduction of economic reforms in 1978. This socialization process involved the cultivation of new patterns of behavior as well as the synchronization of beliefs and attitudes of the masses to those of the official orthodoxy. ...


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pp. 105-116


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pp. 117-136


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pp. 137-140

E-ISBN-13: 9781611172072
Print-ISBN-13: 9781570039874

Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication