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Placing Faith in Development: How Moscow’s Religious Communities Contribute to a More Civil Society

Melissa L. Caldwell
Slavic Review
Vol. 71, No. 2 (SUMMER 2012), pp. 261-287
DOI: 10.5612/slavicreview.71.2.0261
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5612/slavicreview.71.2.0261
Page Count: 27
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Placing Faith in Development: How Moscow’s Religious Communities Contribute to a More Civil Society
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Abstract

The development-oriented work of Moscow’s religious communities is examined in this article, with a focus on how a core group of faith organizations present themselves as offering an alternative vision of intervention and improvement that seeks to protect Russian citizens from what proponents suggest are the shortcomings of previous democratizing and civil society ventures. Staff and supporters within Moscow’s faith-based assistance sphere contend that religiously affiliated assistance organizations are successful, not only because they parallel secular development programs in promoting values and practices of capitalism, democracy, and global human rights, but more importantly because they also claim to move beyond these approaches to tend to the well-being and transformation of the entire human being. Consequently, proponents argue that faith-based organizations are more attuned to values of humane treatment and civility, thereby making them better positioned to build a new Russian society that brings citizens and the state together in productive and caring relationships. Ultimately, this attention to the perspectives and ideals of religiously oriented development organizations provides a different vantage point for reconsidering the promises and consequences of Russia’s neoliberal and democratizing transformations.

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