Religious and National Identity of Russians
Natalia P. Dinello
This chapter explores identity construction among Russians during the current dramatic period of renunciation of the Soviet past. The emergence of a "religious solution" to the crisis of identity is analyzed. The chapter is specifically focused on the relationship between national and religious self-identification among Russian minorities in the former republics of the Soviet Union.
The analysis proceeds in four steps. First, general ideas about identity and the perils of its crisis are introduced. The main reasons for the present crisis of identity among Russians are outlined. Second, the reliance on religion as an option for withdrawal from this crisis is discussed. Third, the double pressure of ambiguity of identity and breakdown of trust that results from the state of anomie among Russian minorities in the former republics of the Soviet Union are considered. The urgency of reformulation of Russians' identity and their potential receptivity to religion are emphasized. Fourth, empirical evidence of the breakdown of trust, the crisis of identity, and the relationship between national and religious self-identification among Russian minorities is presented.
A clear sense of identity provides a necessary condition for continuous social order and noncontroversial normative regulation of the members of society. Unambiguous self-definition and self-location in the social environment are prerequisites to the mental and spiritual bal-