Project title: Religiousness in Times of Change: Biographical Study of Orthodox Believers in Post-Soviet Russia
The main concern of this dissertation project is to make an empirically based contribution to the understanding of the religiosity of Orthodox Christians in post-Soviet Russia in the context of the socio-cultural transformation of Russian society.
The religious situation in contemporary Russia is characterized by contradictory tendencies. Although the number of people who identify themselves with Orthodoxy has strongly grown in the last 25 years, the proportion of the population that regularly goes to church and practices religion remains low. Moreover, individual religious practices of the so-called „unchurched“ believers remain situational and are enacted mostly in the times of “limit situations” like personal difficulties or health problems.
Seeking to uncover this discrepancy between identification with the Orthodoxy and religious practice, I analyze biographical-narrative interviews with Orthodox believers and guideline-based expert-interviews with the clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church conducted during my fieldwork in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kursk and Smolensk in 2014, 2017 and 2018. I am interested in how people come to be Orthodox in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and how is Orthodoxy lived. Using the documentary method (Bohnsack/Nohl) I explore, how and in which framework (Orientierungsrahmen) is the topic of religion dealt with in the interview. The main aim of the project is to formulate a typology of Orthodox believers.