Year of Graduation
The Strategies of Religious Identity Construction in the Case of Catholics in Moscow
Faculty of Sociology
Against the background of society’s past and ongoing transformations there is a growing interest to the theme of human identity. This interest of not only scientists but also of ordinary people can be explained by one fact: modern people’s identity has undergone a number of significant transformations due to changes in social surrounding. First of all, we can notice the new distinction between traditional (gender, religious, national, professional) and untraditional (for instance, virtual, corporate or consumer) identities. Secondly, today identity is not given to individual from birth to an end of life. Individual choose identities and construct their hierarchy by himself during all his life.Thereby the question about transformation of traditional identities arises especially about religious identity because it defined perception of the world and society for a long period of time. Thus, this research which was held within symbolic interactionism (Identity Theory by S. Stryker) is devoted to strategies of religious identity construction and maintenance. Moscow Catholic parishes were chosen as a case because Russian Catholics are in unique institutional frame of Catholic Church due to the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Because of such institutional conditions some peculiarities of post-conversional period are formed. These peculiarities are characterized by some uncertainty level based on neophyte’s involvement in parish community. Moreover, Russian Catholics permanently are in a search of ‘real and authentic’ religious identity. The religious identity construction runs through all life of ‘churched’ Catholic. The two ‘ideal types’ of strategies used can be distinguished – ‘prayerful’ and ‘communal’ differed by intentions and means.Given case illustrates the conversion of identification to continuous process. In contemporary society individuals not only make identity chooses and construct at the beginning but also then they continue to ‘repair’ them in ordinary world. Modern people answering every morning to a question “Who am I?” use different ways (mechanisms) at the same time to maintain a sense of identities continuity.