CRPL Research Day: Religion and Welfare in East Asian Contexts – A Research Roundtable


Friday 1st March, 2019

University of Leeds, Baines Wing Room 2.14

Religious groups and teachings have long played an important role in social welfare, with significant amounts of education, medical care, and social services being provided to the general public by religious organisations. In many ways, the East Asian context offers a stark contrast to dominant European welfare models in the lack of uniformity within the region. Yet, there remain some common cross-national characteristics, including low public expenditure on welfare; adoption of a facilitating/enabling role by the state; strong and pervasive cultural-religious forces underlying notions of welfare (incl. Confucianism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity) which can lead to a general dislike of the ‘welfare state’; limited commitment to social citizenship; and the central role of the family.

On 1st March, the Centre for Religion and Public Life and East Asian Studies will hold a day-long research round-table providing an opportunity to explore and analyse the role of religion and social welfare in the East Asian context. This study day will bring together a range of scholars working across the region (including Chinese and Japanese contexts) with different religious traditions to discuss changing discourses and patterns – such as the engendering of a self-help ethos, rather than welfare dependency; the privatisation of compassion; and, the changing role of volunteering – through discussions and presentations based on ongoing innovative empirical projects and research from the field.


10.15 Arrival and Refreshments

10.30 Welcome and Introduction (Dr Caroline Fielder and Dr Caroline Starkey)

10.40 – 11.25 Dr Jane Caple (University of Copenhagen)

To fund a temple or a school? Ideas about wealth, virtue and the social good in 21st Century Tibet.

11.25 -12.10 Hollie Gowan (University of Leeds)

Social Welfare as ‘Goodness’: a case study of Tzu-Chi Foundation’s ‘political merit-making’ in contemporary Chinese society.

12.10-12.55 Aura di Febo (University of Manchester)

Risshō Kōseikai within Japan’s Economy of Care

12.55-1.40 Lunch

1.40 – 2.25 Dr Takahashi Norihito (Toyo University, Japan)

The Development of Support Activities for Foreign Residents by Religious Organisations in Japan

2.25 – 3.10 Dr Caroline Fielder (University of Leeds)

Promoting social inclusion in China? Vulnerable, disadvantaged groups in a fragile state

3.10-3.20 Refreshments

3.20-4.00 Response and Round-table Discussion (Professor Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, Chair)

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Dr Caroline Starkey (, stating any dietary requirements

Image Credit: Hollie Gowan

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