Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Stephen B. Groce (Director),Dr. Amy C. Krull,Dr. Douglas Clayton Smith

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The aim of this research is to find social factors in Chinese academic immigrants’ conversion to Christianity using the perspectives of symbolic interactionism and social exchange theory. The research data are drawn from observation and interviews. Fourteen Chinese student converts were interviewed. The analysis focuses on the interaction between recruits and Christians. Results supported the idea that religious conversion happens progressively. Affective bonds are essential for the religious conversion of Chinese academic immigrants. Chinese Christian converts experienced five stages. First, they develop affective commitment to Christians close to them and regard them as their reference group. Second, an emergent generalized other is internalized in recruits’ minds through recruits’ acceptance of symbolic language in Christianity and interaction with Chinese Christians. Third, recruits understand the Bible with the perspective of Christians. Fourth, as the socially defined reality reinforces their beliefs and the affective bonds develop, recruits confess their sins and decide to believe in God. Finally, recruits strengthen their understanding of Christianity by intensifying interactions with Chinese Christians.


Religion | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology | Sociology of Culture