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Converts to Civil Society
Christianity and Political Culture in Contemporary Hong Kong

By Lida V. Nedilsky

Converts to Civil Society
Hardback, 239 pages $49.95
Published: 1st July 2014
ISBN: 9781481300322
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Political Science, Religion & Politics

Lida V. Nedilsky captures the public ramifications of a personal, Christian faith at the time of Hong Kong’s pivotal political turmoil. From 1997 to 2008, in the much-anticipated reintegration of Hong Kong into Chinese sovereignty, she conducted detailed interviews of more than fifty Hong Kong people and then followed their daily lives, documenting their involvement at the intersection of church and state.

Citizens of Hong Kong enjoy abundant membership options, both social and religious, under Hong Kong’s free market culture. Whether identifying as Catholic or Protestant, or growing up in religious or secular households, Nedilsky’s interviewees share an important characteristic: a story of choosing faith. Across the spheres of family and church, as well as civic organizations and workplaces, Nedilsky shows how individuals break and forge bonds, enter and exit commitments, and transform the public ends of choice itself. From this intimate, firsthand vantage point, Converts to Civil Society reveals that people’s independent movements not only invigorate and shape religious community but also enliven a wider public life.


1.         A Question of Competence

2.         Conversion to Christianity

3.         Conversion to Civil Society

4.         The Work of Civil Society

5.         Passing the Torch

6.         The Question of Convergence


“Nedilsky traces individual developments over time and examines how the entrances and exits involved in religious groups build a sense of agency, adding to the sense of competence and possibility for self-rule.”

—Rhys H. Williams, Professor of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago

“Not only does Nedilsky offer a refreshing look at the role of religion in public life in Hong Kong, she also presents people’s voices and choices in the context of a society undergoing rapid changes.”

—Tai-Lok Lui, Professor of Sociology, the University of Hong Kong

“…Converts to Civil Society is an interesting and valuable study. It has much for general readers, as well as researchers on civil society, Hong Kong politics, and the highly topical issue of the interaction between religion and politics.”

—Phil Entwistle, International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church

"...Nedilsky’s volume presents a fascinating array of some of the most socially active Christian personalities in Hong Kong during a remarkable period of momentous change."

—Wai Ching Angela Wong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, China Information

"Lida Nedilsky’s timely and well-written book provides a rich view into the journeys of select individuals as they convert to civil society, expressing their Christian faiths through Hong Kong NGOs. Converts to Civil Society is a focused treatment on an important segment of Hong Kong that cannot be ignored by researchers interested in the public role of religion.”

—Alexander Chow, Pacific Affairs

"Lida Nedilsky gives us the memorable voices of Hong Kong Chinese Christians who are bravely and creatively building bridges between a Western Faith and Chinese political and social realities. With sociological insight she shows us the possibilities and perils embedded in this cultural encounter."

—Richard Madsen, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego  

Lida V. Nedilsky is Professor of Sociology at North Park University. Ethnography enables her engagement with the world, whether as a researcher in Hong Kong or as a citizen of Chicago.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 239 pages
 9in x 6in

  POL054000, REL084000
 Baylor University Press

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