Orthodox Brotherhoods in the Russian Orthodox Church: religious and social projects





sociology of religion, ecclesial sociology, the Russian Orthodox Church, parish, brotherhood, independent brotherhoods


The article presents an analysis of modern non-parish based Orthodox brotherhoods, a new striking phenomenon in the Russian religious landscape. The author believes that the Orthodox brotherhoods appeared due to reinstitutionalization of the Russian Orthodox Church in the modern societies. The author explores how non-parish brotherhoods construct their identities using the notion of «ecclesiasticism» or canonical, mystical and sacramental boundaries of the Russian Orthodox Church.The article outlines four stages of the Orthodox brotherhood institutionalization and develops a typology of the brotherhoods. The author’s analysis of the institutionalization stages shows that the brotherhoods’ specific organizational form is traditional for the Russian Orthodox Church both during political and social crises and when the church is on the rise.Three types of brotherhoods are considered in detail in the article: spiritual unions, socially-oriented religious organizations and politically-biased fundamentalist organizations. The first two groups are capable of consolidating their actions and keeping the Orthodoxy in its spiritual form, while politically-biased fundamentalist organizations oppose them trying to present themselves as the only church representatives.