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Project Number18-78-10089

Project titleThe Paradox of Interrelation between Religion and Family in Modern Russia

Project LeadPavlyutkin Ivan

AffiliationPrivate educational institution of higher education Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University for the Humanities,

Implementation period 07.2018 - 06.2021  extension for 07.2021 - 06.2023


Research area 08 - HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, 08-302 - Sector-specific sociology

Keywordsfamily studies, religiosity, christianity, ethics, community, social networks, religious identity, responsibility, humility, fidelity, responsibility, social effects of godparenthood, relational sociology, interdisciplinary approach



The research project is aimed at the systematic study of the effects of religion (the main focus on Christianity) in the family life in Russian society that has gone through the forced secularization and detraditionalization of the family). In modern social sciences, religion and family are considered as completely independent Institutions. Researchers of family and fertility do not include into their explanatory models theoretical and methodological features of religion and religiosity studies. The existing sociological and economic studies base on the presupposition of religious coherence and include indicators of confessional affiliation or subjective assessments of religiosity without measuring such factors as regularity of religiosity practices, religious socialization and embeddedness of a family in social relations within the parishes. Such "poor methodology" shows either the absence of significance or weak influence of religious indicators on family and fertility. In addition, researchers do not apply methods of interviewing a married couple (husband and wife) and don't focus on father involvement and large families formation. That is why interpretations of the meaning of religion for a family are reduced to a description of formal rules and religious prescriptions, which supposed to guide family life. Beyond the study of the relationship between religion and family, on the one hand, the substantial meaning of religion, expressed in the categories of ethics and virtues (fidelity, responsibility, humility, etc.), and on the other hand, different types of religiosity and social mechanisms of religious influence and (parish social networks, godparents, etc.). Inattention to religious factors is often explained by the emphasis on the process of social modernization and the decline of the value orientation, which is specific to traditional institutions. Meanwhile, both Russian and international studies of values show the significance of family and children values for Russians, compared to the inhabitants of other European countries. The research project is aimed at overcoming the theoretical and methodological gap in family and religion research in the social sciences. Realization of the project using primary and secondary empirical data will allow to assess the contribution and significance of religion, and also to clarify the mechanics of its influence on family sustainability and fertility.

Expected results
The project is aimed at searching for new arguments for the scientific discussion on sustainability of family and patterns of fertility, explanation and evaluation of religion in modern Russia. The implementation of the project will give an opportunity to provide reasonable answers to questions about interrelationship of religion and family by illuminating the degree of its significance and mechanisms of influence. Furthermore, the results of the project will elucidate the role of quality of family relations, social embeddedness of the family, practices of religious and family life. The investigation will help to compare Russian interrelationship of religion and family with situation in other countries and to understand Russian specificity. The intermediate results of the project will be discussed with Russian and foreign research centers via participation in conferences and workshops. It will allow young Russian scientists to join the international discussion on family and religion problems. The results of the research project will help to develop educational courses on sociology of family and religious studies. The results of the research will have not only theoretical but also practical value as they will contain a number of arguments for the development of social policy on family and fertility and on types of support for socially-oriented organizations and family initiatives. The study will offer arguments for discussing horizontal forms (educational programs, collective pro-family projects) of social support for the family in cooperation with traditional confessions.The conceptual model of family created in this study can be useful for the modernization of social support programs for families in unfavorable conditions. This is especially important in the context of complex demographic situation in Russia. As the results of the project, a number of articles and professional reviews will be prepared. The results will be presented at international and Russian conferences. Also some articles for business and public journals will be written. It is planned to create an infographic and place it on the web page on the website of the Sociology of Religion Research Laboratory in Russian and English (URL:



Annotation of the results obtained in 2020
During the third year the project "The Paradox of Interrelation between Religion and Family in Modern Russia" was focused on the study of the categories of ethics of intrafamily relations and was developed at several levels of analysis. At the theoretical level, a distinction was made between the concepts of "ethos" and "habitus", which, though initially aimed at different research tasks, are usually identified in modern sociological research (Zabaev, Kostrova 2021). The concept of "ethos" was developed by M. Weber in conjunction with the value-rational type of action and turns out to be a useful tool to explain sociologically different types of transition to family with many children. These transitions are not directly related to tradition and not unconscious, although they are associated with religiosity. At the empirical level, we have conducted a study of transitions to a large family, based on in-depth interviews with parents of multiple children. Using these data, we were able to identify and describe several types of transition to fertility (namely planned, natural and joint transition), which are just relevant to discuss in value-rational categories. The identified types of transition to a large family made it possible to single out two distinct ways of argumentation based on different ethical categories: while the first one is centered on openness to birth, the second one accentuates responsibility to birth (Pavlyutkin, Goleva 2020). Another empirical case that exemplified ethical categories was non-medical instrumentalization of reproduction. The research focused on women with reproductive problems, who become nothing more than passive recipients of procedures from the medical point of view and at the same time find no support and understanding of their situation in the church. Among those women we find a tradition of instrumentalization of reproduction: they create new non-medical practices that, in their opinion, can facilitate conception, as well as serve as the source of emotional support. Places, symbols and rituals associated with the church are frequent elements of the instrumentalization of reproduction (Krikhtova 2020). The categories of family ethics have also been discussed in the context of the so-called "Russian Marriage paradox." The “Russian Marriage Paradox” consists in simultaneously high levels of nuptiality and divorce rates observed in Russia over the past half century. The dominant explanation for this situation today comes from the theory of modernization of values. Its departing point is the expansion of life scenarios, which may not include an only one marriage. An alternative explanation sticks to the theory of deinstitutionalization of marriage, which emphasizes the weakening of the normative order of marriage regulation. We propose the third model of explanation, which understands marriage as the reality of relationship resulting from the human reciprocity. Thus, the factor explaining such a high divorce rate is “relational poverty,” which at the measurement level manifests itself in a low value of self-sacrifice and abandonment of one's desires for the common good in the family. To confirm this hypothesis, we have turned to data from the all-Russian Internet survey collected with support of this grant in 2019. The data were collected by Tiburon Research company using a questionnaire developed by the project team. The questionnaire included the authentic method to study respondents' ideas about marriage, which makes it possible to identify specific manifestations of the “relational reflexivity” in family life (Pavlyutkin, Goleva 2021). During the implementation of the project, we considered the thesis on the social component of religiosity, which is analyzed as an individual variable in most studies. We developed a modification of the Scale of Centrality of Religiosity (CRS) (CRS-SOC) to include the social component of religiosity with two aspects, i.e. social ties (1) with the laity in religious communities and (2) with the clergy. The scale was tested on two databases, one of which was the 2019 online survey conducted as part of this project (Prutskova 2021). During the pandemic and self-isolation, we undertook an additional task to analyze the relationship between intrafamily dynamics and religiosity based on data from the online survey conducted during self-isolation in the spring of 2020. Based on the all-Russian survey, we described the life of families during the pandemic and assessed the changes in the religious practices of the respondents. The results of the analysis were presented at the XXII April International Academic conference on economic and social development and in the data release on "Family, work and religion during the period of self-isolation". In addition, the obtained results were presented at the International online workshop on the social isolation of families during Covid-19, which became a platform for discussion of the methodology in research of family life during the period of self-isolation. The main results of the third year have been presented in five articles (4 of them published, 1 accepted for publication), at five academic events listed on the site of the research project [], and in the text of the monograph (Pavlyutkin I.V., Goleva M.A., Borisova O.N. The Sea of Life: How Large Families Are Born in Modern Russia. Moscow: PSTGU) prepared for publication in 2021.



1. Pavlyutkin I. V, Goleva M.A. Как создаются семьи с большим числом детей: типы жизненных переходов родителей Социологические исследования, № 7. С. 106-117 (year - 2020).

2. Krikhtova T.M. Религиозная составляющая внемедицинской инструментализации репродукции: Зачатьевский монастырь в нарративах пользовательниц родительского форума «Бебиблог» Журнал социологии и социальной антропологии, № 1, Т. 23 , с.198-222 (year - 2020).

3. Zabaev I.V., Kostrova E.A. Этос vs габитус: этический компонент в «Протестантской этике» М. Вебера Социология власти, 32 (4): 45-67 (year - 2020).

4. Prutskova E.V. Social vs. Individual Centrality of Religiosity: Research in Religious and Non-Religious Settings in Russia. Religions, 12 (15): 1-18 (year - 2021).

5. Pavlyutkin I., Goleva M. Il paradosso russo del matrimonio. Quale nesso con la povertà relazionale? D. Bramanti, E. Carrà (a cura di), Famiglia e povertà relazionale, Studi interdisciplinari sulla famiglia, Vita&Pensiero, Milano., - (year - 2021).

6. Pavlyutkin I.V., Goleva M.A., Borisova O.N. Море жизни: Как рождаются многодетные семьи в современной России Издательство Православного Свято-Тихоновского гуманитарного университета, Москва, - (year - 2021).

Annotation of the results obtained in 2018
During the first year, the research team of the project “The Paradox of Religion and Family Relationship in Modern Russia”, worked to substantiate the hypothesis about social generativity to explain the paradox of the relationship between attributes of religiosity and attributes of the family institution in the context of Russian society that experienced the so-called "forced secularization". The first feature of the modern social context is a significant gap between the proportion of believers identifying themselves with a particular Christian denomination (Russian Orthodox Church, from 60 to 80%) and the proportion of practitioners and parishioners (from 3 to 7%) observed in the last 25 years. The second feature of the social context is a significant gap between the expressed high value of the family and children (from 70 to 90% value their family and family issues) and at the same time very low marriage duration, high divorce rate, low birth rate. Such paradoxical gaps, historically uncharacteristic for the countries of Western Europe, the USA, and a number of Eastern European countries, simultaneously indicate the absence for a number of post-Soviet countries (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria) of a significant relationship between religious affiliation and measures of the stability of marriage, the number of children in family. In fact, a linear relationship between religion and family, that is, a situation where a high duration of a single marriage will be associated with a large number of children in one's family can be observed for a very small group of parishioners (up to 5-7%). Little is known about the effects of religion on the practices of the modern family for the rest of Russian society, which allows many researchers to propose its insignificance in comparison with other factors (income, education, etc.) and to exclude it from the models. Based on a number of theoretical concepts (relational sociology of the family, the hypothesis of "the strength of weak ties", network mechanisms and "structural holes") as well as the experience of empirical ethnographic research, we formulated the assumption that network effect of parish or social generativity of religiosity can provide fruitful arguments to explain the situation of observed structural gaps between attributes of religiosity and attributes of family. Network effect becomes effective under several conditions: a) identify "significant others" who are the "core" of the culture of family life and reflect their experience of family life; b) identify “bridges” connecting a small group of “significant others”, families of parishioners, and a families of “affiliated believers”; c) there is a possibility for a common cause between these groups, associated with children and family development. The rationale for this assumption in the framework of philosophy and theology is disclosed in the articles by E. Kostrova (2018) “La famiglia come triade: Jean” in the articles “Distributed in Phenomenology and Family Studies” and Kostrova E. (2019). -Luc Marion e gli studi sulla famiglia ”, as well as articles by N. Yemelyanov (2019)“ The Significance of the Orthodox Priest's Family in Pastoral Service: A Theological Approach ”and Emelyanov N. (2019) La famiglia del sacerdote come uno degli strumenti del servizio pastorale. So, the co-presence of these factors (“significant others”, “bridges”, “common cause”) creates an effect of social generativity or a network effect when the mechanisms of social contagion, social learning and social support (gift exchange) operate for the involved families. This hypothesis was proved on the basis of qualitative and quantitative data - a survey of parents in large families. At the level of individual cases and qualitative data analysis, the logic of this argument was descibed in an article by Goleva M. (2019) Tipologia dei percorsi che portano alla famiglia numerosa: il caso delle grandi famiglie nella Russia contemporanea, as well as in the texts of Krikhtova TM. (2019) Sociology of family and childhood in the works of James Bossard ", M. Goleva (2019)" Network effects of fertility: the case of large families in Russia ", M. Goleva (2019)" The social significance of time in a family with children (for example, large families) ”, Which are being prepared for publication in the second year of the project. At the level of quantitative data, the significance of the network effect of religion was has been clarified in the article by Borisova ON and Pavlyutkina I.V. (2019) "Variability of models of modern urban large families: the revival of tradition, new marriages or network effects?". To summarize, the structural explanation of the absence of a linear tie between religion and family in Russian society lies in the existence of “structural holes” that reduce the probability of communication between parish families (having experience of single marriages and the birth of several children) and families of the "affiliated believers". The probability of such a communication increases due to the practices of involving families in collective projects for the upbringing and development of children, family camps and kindergartens implemented at the level of parishes or in partnership between parishes and professional organizations. It has been demonstrated using quantitative data on large families of Pavljutkin I. (2019) Famiglia comunità: in che modo religion or contribuisce alla crescita delle famiglie numerose in Russia? Part of the presented results with the reference to the grant of the Russian Science Foundation can be found in several media publications. Interviews with the head of the research project for the portal “” - “It is hard to make a large family without contagious experience” and “Fathers ask for children: why the demographic policy is deadlocked ". As part of the preparation of scientific publications, members of the research team took part in the Russian-Italian symposium on family issues together with representatives of the family research centers of Livorno, the University of Sacred Heart in Milan, the Gregorian University in Rome. The main results of the study of the first year of the project were also presented at international conferences. ( During the second year of the project, scholars will discuss and test a set of hypotheses about the relationship between family ethics and values ​​of modern marriage and the attributes of religiosity.



1. Kostrova E. The Dyad and the Third Party: The Traces of Simmel’s Distinction in Phenomenology and Family Studies AVANT, Vol. 9, no2, pp. 187-202 (year - 2018).

2. Kostrova E.A. Метод объективной герменевтики: проблемы и перспективы Социология: методология, методы, математическое моделирование (4М), № 46, C. 123-158. (year - 2018).

3. Borisova Olga, Pavlyutkin Ivan Вариативность моделей современной городской многодетности: возрождение традиции, новые браки или сетевые эффекты? Мир России. Социология. Этнология, - (year - 2019).

4. - Многодетностью можно «заразиться» "Милосердие.ru", 04.02.2019, Елена Симанкова "Многодетностью можно «заразиться»" (year - ).

5. Emelyanov N. Значение семьи православного священника в пастырском служении: богословский подход Вестник ПСТГУ. Серия I: Богословие. Философия. Религиоведение., Вып. 82. С. 34-50. (year - 2019).

6. - Детей заказывают отцы: почему демографическая политика зашла в тупик "Милосердие.ru", 24.12.2018, Елена Симанкова "Детей заказывают отцы: почему демографическая политика зашла в тупик" (year - ).

Annotation of the results obtained in 2019
The first year of the implementation of the project “The Paradox of Interrelation between Religion and Family in Modern Russia” was aimed at substantiating and testing a hypothesis concerning social generativity and network effects of religiosity. The hypothesis clarifies the contribution of religion to the increase in the number of large families in Russia in the last decade. Some of our first-year results have already been published in leading Russian social science journals; other articles are in press. The results of the study attracted the attention of several popular science portals (, and media (, Miloserdie.RU). F.ex. two of the reviews of our research are in English: • Sobolevskaya Olga. 2019. "Three to Ten Why families choose to have more children, more often (review of an article written by Olga Borisova and Ivan Pavlyutkin)." Research and Education Website, 22.01.2019. • Research and Education Website. 2019. "Beyond Normal: How Society Judges Large Families (review of Mariia Goleva's article).", 24.09.2019. Detailed information about the project and results is presented on the webpage: In the second phase of the project the research focus had shifted to the analysis of factors determining the differentiation of patterns of marriage relationships. Methodologically a transition from the analysis of the structural characteristics of families to variables that act as an approximation of the ethics of marriage was made. For this, a review of studies aimed at the formation of typologies of family relationships and demonstration of their variability was prepared. A special questionnaire was made. It allows estimating the important qualities of marriage and their realization in life and differentiating marriage patterns based on empirical data. To test the hypothesis of factors differentiating types of marriage we started the statistical analysis of two databases. The two online surveys were conducted in April 2019 (2300 respondents) and April 2020 (2500 respondents). The surveys were conducted in partnership with the research company «Tiburon Research». The company specializes in online surveys. The data release of the results of the 2019 survey, representing the distribution of key variables, can be found on the project website: As the results of the 2019 data factor analysis, we identified four patterns of relationships in marriage (justice, equality, independence, community) and tested factors influencing the affiliation with the particular type of marriage. Highlighted stable patterns showed different significance in connection with the characteristics of fertility, family size, and socio-demographic variables. For example, some variables of religiosity (3-4 variables) showed significance only in relation to two patterns of marriage (justice and community). The first results of the study have already been presented at international conferences; drafts of articles for submission to leading journals have been written. The questionnaire for the second online-survey was expanded: we added more questions that allow differentiating the patterns of relationships in marriage to increase more thoroughly and stably. Furthermore, were added questions that enabled to evaluate religiosity not only as a variable of identification or practice but also as a variable measuring the circles of communication and socialization. On the next step we plan to compare the results of data analysis to assess the stability of the selected models. In addition, as a part of the second online-survey (April 2020) a block of questions was added to estimate the quality of family relations during the period of self-isolation. Such questions will enable to include these variables in the model and also to prepare a separate material. According to the results of the first-year implementation of the project, it was also decided to analyze the relationship between family and religion not as a linear, but as an indirect interrelation, for which the analysis of mediation and moderation factors is of great importance. For the theoretical consideration of mediation and moderation factors, a theoretical review was made. It was focused on the issue of the influence of religion on fertility. We made a list of articles published in international peer-reviewed journals from 1930 to 2019. Within the collected base of publications, for the review, we selected those that had a high level of citation, were based on empirical data (quantitative surveys), and considered the situation in different countries. The review will become part of an article that we are going to submit to one of the academic journals on demography, as well as part of an empirical article based on comparative data. Three articles were published on the basis of reviews and data analysis that was made at the first stage of the project. Article of T.M. Krihtova (Krihtova T.M. 2019. Sociology of Family and Childhood in the Work of James Bossard. Sociological Journal, 25 (3): 84-98, is a review of the works of the American sociologist James Bossard. He specialized in the study of large families. He also studied various aspects of family life, for example, family rituals, roles of children in the family, the differences between large and small families. His studies are almost unknown to Russian sociologists, despite the fact that the monographs are recognized as classics of Sociology of family. Texts written by M.A. Goleva contain the results of an analysis of in-depth interviews with parents of many children. In the first article (Goleva M.A. 2019. The Effects of Social Network on Fertility: The Case of Large Families in Russia. Journal of Economic Sociology, vol. 20, no 3, 136-163, doi: 10.17323/1726-3247-2019-3-136-163) the role of social ties in the emergence of large families is considered. The second text (Goleva M.A. 2019. Social Meaning of Time in a Family with Children (a Case Study of Large Families). Monitoring of Public Opinion: Economic and Social Changes, 3, 239-260) raises a question of social meanings of time that are differentiated by parents' of many children. It was shown that several differences in the temporal organization of life of religious and non-religious large families could be found. Furthermore, two other articles were submitted to scientific journals: one prepared by I.V. Pavlyutkin and M.A. Goleva «How are large families created: types of parental transitions» and another one written by T. M. Krihtova «Religious component of non-medical instrumentalization of reproduction: Zachatievsky monastery in narratives of users of the parental forum“Babyblog”. The results of the second year of project implementation were presented at 8 Russian and international conferences (information on participation in the conference is available on the project webpage: In October 2019 an international workshop was held at Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, where the results of the analysis of the differentiation of marriage patterns were discussed (for more details:



1. Goleva Mariia Сетевые эффекты рождаемости: случай многодетных семей в России Экономическая социология, №3, Т.20, с.136-163 (year - 2019).

2. Goleva Mariia Социальное значение времени в семье с детьми (на примере многодетных семей) Мониторинг общественного мнения: Экономические и социальные перемены, №3, с. 239-260 (year - 2019).

3. Krihtova Tatiana Социология семьи и детства в работах Джеймса Боссарда Социологический журнал, Том 25, № 3, с. 84–98 (year - 2019).

4. - Городские многодетные семьи распределили по группам Информационно-сервисный портал «Indicator.Ru», Информационно-сервисный портал «Indicator.Ru». 2019. "Городские многодетные семьи распределили по группам." Indicator.Ru, 18.11.2019. (year - ).

5. - Социологи классифицировали городские многодетные семьи Газета.ru., Газета.ru. 2019. "Социологи классифицировали городские многодетные семьи." Газета.ru, 18.11.2019. (year - ).

6. - От трех до десяти: какие семьи решаются рожать больше и чаще Научно-образовательный портал IQ НИУ ВШЭ, Научно-образовательный портал IQ НИУ ВШЭ. 2019. "От трех до десяти: какие семьи решаются рожать больше и чаще.", 14.11.2019. (year - ).

7. - Превышая норму. Как общество осуждает многодетные семьи Научно-образовательный портал IQ НИУ ВШЭ, Научно-образовательный портал IQ НИУ ВШЭ. 2019. "Превышая норму. Как общество осуждает многодетные семьи.", 24.09.2019. (year - ).

8. - Социологи классифицировали городские многодетные семьи Газета.ru, Газета.ru. 2019. "Социологи классифицировали городские многодетные семьи." Газета.ru, 18.11.2019 (year - ).