Chapter

Religious conversion as a biographical turn/ing: the case of Orthodox believers in contemporary Russia

Liana Ipatova

in Biography and turning points in Europe and America

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9781847428608
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307655 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847428608.003.0010
Religious conversion as a biographical turn/ing: the case of Orthodox believers in contemporary Russia

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Ipatova examines the growth religious conversion among Orthodox believers in Russia at the end of the 20th century. The study and analysis involves 30 biographical interviews with women between 20 to 50 years of age, who have been Orthodox Church members for at least one year; and it uses 78 self-narratives about the conversion to Orthodoxy that were drawn from the Internet. Using a refined definition of religious conversion, Ipatova finds that confession is central to the process as it requires the individual to re-evaluate their secular life, and adjust their current and future biographical projects to orthodox values. On the basis of the biographical narratives, four types of turns in religious biographies are developed: the radical turn, the gradual reciprocating turn, the gradual stage-related turn, and a ceremonial transition.Whether these biographical turns are turning points or not is discussed, as the author concludes that the meaning of rites associated with conversion are determined less by normative form, and more by the previous biographical context of the person who must confess to convert.

Keywords: biographical narratives; religious conversion; turns; turning points; confession; typology; Russia; Orthodox Church

Chapter.  7647 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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