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Orthodoxy and Political Behavior in Postcommunist Russia

Stephen White and Ian McAllister
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 41, No. 3 (Mar., 2000), pp. 359-372
DOI: 10.2307/3512035
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3512035
Page Count: 14
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Orthodoxy and Political Behavior in Postcommunist Russia
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Abstract

Following the collapse of communism, religious observance increased dramatically in Russia. Many observers believed that religion would provide a basis for political mobilization, but this has not eventuated. According to nationally representative surveys conducted in 1993 and 1996, levels of church attendance in postcommunist Russia have stabilized; about three-quarters identify themselves as Orthodox and 17 percent as atheist, although only about one in ten attend church at least once a month. Frequent attenders were less likely to vote in 1993, but in the rather different circumstances of the 1995 Duma election they were more likely to vote than self-declared atheists. Frequent attenders were also more likely to engage in other forms of political participation, particularly writing to the press and contacting officials. But there were relatively weak consequences for voting, in December 1995 or in the 1996 presidential election, in the absence of major parties that deliberately mobilized a confessional vote. Several explanations are advanced to account for the weak influence of religion on politics, notably the absence of a civil society and of competition between denominations.

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