Analysing patterns of religious participation in post-communist Eastern Europe

Ariana Need, Geoffrey Evans

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    Abstract

    It is generally thought that processes of modernization generic to industrialized societies have resulted in a process of secularization with respect to conventional religious participation and observance in most Western countries. It is not at all clear, however, whether the post-communist societies of Eastern Europe have followed this pattern. In this we paper we examine whether levels of religiosity in ten post-communist societies - five generally Catholic in orientation and five Orthodox - are consistent with secularization theory, or whether instead they display, as some have suggested, the impact of seven decades of atheistic communism followed by a recent resurgence among the young. For this purpose we examine denominational membership and church attendance using descriptive and multivariate analysis of large-scale national sample surveys conducted in the mid-1990s. We find that age and educational differences in participation rates follow patterns expected on the basis of secularization theory with no evidence of resurgence among younger groups. Also, however, Catholic participation rates are significantly higher than Orthodox ones, indicating the importance of denomination in understanding patterns of religiosity in the post-communist context.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-248
    Number of pages20
    JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
    Volume52
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001

    Keywords

    • Eastern Europe
    • Modernization
    • Post-communist societies
    • Religion
    • Religious participation

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