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Survey Research and the Study of Religion in East Asia

“Survey Research and the Study of Religion in East Asia,” a conference hosted by Pew Research Center, took place Oct. 11 and 12, 2017, at Pew Research Center headquarters in Washington, D.C. More than 60 social scientists, religion scholars and survey researchers from East Asia, Europe and North America participated in the event, which was part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project. Participants from East Asia received travel support from the Global Religion Research Initiative.

Conference attendees debated whether religion in East Asia is unique, shared what is known about current trends and considered which survey measures could best capture identity and practice. The conference also focused on the challenges and opportunities for future research – particularly in China, where surveys about religion can be politically sensitive.

Wednesday, October 11

9:30 – 10:45     Welcome, Michael Dimock, Pew Research Center
Keynote address “The Land of Prayers: Redefining Religion for Survey Research in Contemporary China and Beyond” – Anna Sun, Kenyon College

11:00 – 12:30     Presentation session #1: Lived religion in East Asia

Convenor: Patrick Moynihan, Pew Research Center Timekeeper: Stephanie Kramer, Pew Research Center

Can a survey capture lived religion in East Asia? Nancy Ammerman, Boston University

Social contact variables and religious activity: Blessed Happiness Survey 2016 Becky Hsu, Georgetown University

Beyond “Holy-Days”: The religious practices of Catholics in everyday life in Shanghai Liang Zhang, Institute of Religious Studies, SASS

Belief crossing category: Reexamining belief and categorization in contemporary Korean religion Michael Ralston, Independent scholar

1:45 – 3:15     Presentation session #2: Key datasets

Convenor: Katie Simmons, Pew Research Center Timekeeper: Jonathan Evans, Pew Research Center

The International Social Survey Program 2018 study of religion in East Asia and around the world Tom W. Smith, NORC at the University of Chicago

Multi-perspective measurement of religion in current China Weidong Wang, National Survey Research Center, Renmin University of China

Measuring religion in Japan: ISM, NHK and JGSS Noriko Iwai, JGSS Research Center, Osaka University of Commerce

Measuring religion in South Korea: the KGSS Jibum Kim, Sungkyunkwan University

Considering religion questions in the East Asian Social Surveys using the Korean General Social Survey as example Jerry Z. Park, Baylor University Kenneth R. Vaughan, Baylor University

3:30 – 5:00     Panel #1: What makes religion in East Asia unique and what should survey researchers keep in mind when trying to measure it? A panel of religion scholars

Moderator: Alan Cooperman, Pew Research Center Panelists: Helen Hardacre, Harvard University; Natasha Heller, University of Virginia; Anna Sun, Kenyon College

Thursday, October 12

9:00 -10:30     Presentation session #3: Innovations and experiments

Convenor: Cary Funk, Pew Research Center Timekeeper: Joey Marshall, Pew Research Center

What a mixed-method study suggests about measuring religion in China Prof. Peter Nynäs, Åbo Akademi University

A survey experiment measuring multiple religious identities in Asia Neha Sahgal, Pew Research Center Steve Schwarzer, Pew Research Center Courtney Nelson, Pew Research Center

How can we construct measures of religiosity in Japan equivalent to Western ones? Koki Shimizu, Hokkaido University

Contextual effects and sensitive topics in the survey Interview: Effects of the interview setting when collecting data on religion and religiosity Zeina Mneimneh, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan Julie de Jong, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan

Cross-cultural dimensions of religious belief among eight countries Akira Kawabata, Osaka University Mitsuharu Watanabe, Kanto Gakuin University

10:45 -12:15     Presentation session #4: Case studies

Convenor: Richard Wike, Pew Research Center Timekeeper: Laura Silver, Pew Research Center

What’s happening to religion in South Korea: Age, period, and cohorts patterns of religious change in the past three decades Chaeyoon Lim, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Measuring the sense of divine control in South Korean context Jong Hyun Jung, Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing

Religion and wellbeing: Viewpoints and perspectives of recent research in Japan Yoskihide Sakurai, Hokkaido University

There’s no place like Japan: A case-study in the methodological challenges of cross-national survey analysis Joshua Hayes, University of California, Davis

How to count religious phenomena in China and East Asia Liyong Dai, Central China Normal University and Confucius Institute at Carleton University, Canada

1:45 – 3:15     Presentation session #5: The secular, the highly religious and those in between

Convenor: Greg Smith, Pew Research Center Timekeeper: Aleksandra Sandstrom, Pew Research Center

Identifying the highly religious in China Megan Rogers, University of Notre Dame

Measuring religious “nones” in China: A comparison of major national surveys in China on question wording and survey estimates Philip Brenner, University of Massachusetts Boston Lirui He, Jinan University Chan Zhang, Fudan University

What new measures for Korean religiosity might reveal about religious nones Young Bin Lim, Korean Association for Sociology of Religion

Who are the “Unaffiliated” in East Asia? A Presentation of Exploratory Data Gina Zurlo, Boston University

Fuzzy fidelity in Confucian society: The case of Taiwan David Voas, University College London

3:30 – 5:00     Panel #2: The future of religion surveys in China

Moderator: Neha Sahgal, Pew Research Center Panelists: Victor Yuan, Horizon Research Consultancy Group; Fenggang Yang, Purdue University; Weidong Wang, Renmin University; Mingming Shen, Peking University