Project: The social significance of spiritual kinship in Russia (21st century)
FUNDING: The project was supported by Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University and the Active Tradition Foundation in 2021-2023.
DURATION OF THE PROJECT: 2021-2023
PROJECT COORDINATOR: Oreshina Daria
RESEARCH TEAM: Anna Zueva, Olga Borisova, Ekaterina Yurchenko
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The purpose of the study is to objectify the meanings of spiritual kinship (Godfamily) for different categories of Orthodox believers (communal, practicing, non-practicing). A limitation of the contemporary research in the field of religion and the influence of religiosity on social life is the fundamental relation determining one’s entry into ecclesial life and the connection of spiritual kinship. This, somewhat invisible, has been neglected and excluded from academic research. In the studies conducted on the parish-social networks, the culture of gift exchange within communities and the organization of parish social work, the bonds of spiritual kinship are excluded in the sociological analysis, even though in an invisible way they bind together the relationship of believers.
In the last twenty years, Russian society has not been able to find a single large-scale survey devoted to the institution of godparents, despite the fact that more Russian Christians are baptized than those who identify with Orthodoxy. The Russian Orthodox Church regularly discusses at various levels the issues of awareness in its approach to the baptism of children, the catechization of godparents, the level of knowledge and requirements for those being baptized. At the same time, there is a lack of objective data to explain how people’s decision to get baptised, how godparents are chosen, what significance godparents have in people’s lives, and the institution of godheading at the level of the whole society.
The research project includes the reviews of Russian and foreign studies of anthropologists, sociologists, historians on the topic of the godfamily; the development of tools and the collection of in-depth interviews with different types of Orthodox believers to identify the meaning of godfamilies in terms of inclusion/exclusion from parish life and the analysis of secondary quantitative data of all-Russian survey to identify the differences in behavior and attitudes related to godfamilies, depending on age, education level and religiosity. The implementation of the study will objectify in the minds of researchers of religion, social practices and priests, the importance of spiritual kinship in the organization of parish life and its social activities, as well as show the degree of consolidation of Orthodox believers in the relationship of godparenting.
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