This article offers a sociological perspective on the rise of and crackdown on the falun gong in relation to the social, cultural and political context of China. I specify from a sociological perspective that the falun gong is categorically not a sect but a cult-like new religious movement. Its popularity, I suggest, is related to the unresolved secular problems, normative breakdown and ideological vacuum in China in the 1980s and 1990s. Before the crackdown, the falun gong represented a successful new religious movement, from a Euro-American perspective. However, most of its strengths as a movement have become adversarial to its survival in the specific historical and political condition of China.
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