2021 Summer Student Research Project | Religious Philanthropy and Official Patronage: an Integrative Data Science Approach

Supervisor: Charles Chang, Assistant Professor of Environment and Urban Studies

Project Description

Existing research shows that religious organizations have close working relationships with the government to provide public goods in China (Tsai 2007). However, they are also under close surveillance under the government and they are, sometimes, suppressed and coerced by the government (Liu and Chang 2021, Wu 2021, 2017). Traditional approaches, such as surveys and interviews, limit the kind of questions that can be asked because of political sensitivity. Even for less sensitive questions, responses are often subject to preference falsification and retrospective memory. In our research, we employ a novel method to reveal the complicated relationship between religious organizations and the government. Using extensive data scraping on Weibo and WeChat, we have documented, for the past three years, all the interactions between religious organizations and the government, such as government sponsored religious ceremonies, propaganda events, and religious philanthropy.

Student Researchers

Chenxi Sun majors in data science and is strongly interested in applying data science to computational social science and natural science. In this project, she is responsible for weibo data.

Yuchen Yang, majoring in data science, is in charge of collecting data from WeChat.

Ziying Ye, also a data science student, focuses mainly on the study of weibo data in this project.

Research Poster