Papers of BAS, Humanities and Social Sciences

Vol. 4, No 1, 2017

ETHNOLOGY

SUBMISSION, CONSUMPTION AND CONSUMERISM AMONG “VOTSERKOVLENNYE” IN POST-SOVIET RUSSIA

Milena Benovska-Sabkova

Abstract: Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) often makes use of moral arguments in its struggle for power onto post-Soviet Russian society. Orthodoxy is represented as a moral mentor which is capable to contribute to overcoming negative phenomena, such as criminality, destructive behaviour, and the decline of the value system in present-day Russia. The anti-modern views, disseminated in the circles of most devoted believers (votserkovlennye), find expression also in the attitude to the public consumption, which is being transformed in the Orthodox parishes by way of the symbolic work towards its adaptation to the ideals of asceticism. Consumerism in its different manifestations and dimensions, however, is received categorically negatively, going as far as overt demonisation.

It is the aim of this paper to focus on a specific aspect of the religious moral discourse(s): the theme of submission as a traditional Orthodox value. Which are the particular messages directed by the clergy to the laymen? In which way do coexist such conservative (and anti-modern) values together with the strongly represented philoso­phy of consumerism, competitive spirit, and everyday struggle for prestige and social recognition? These are main research questions to which the paper is going to address. In order to find answers, empirical evidences (obtained through field work in 2006-2007 in Central Russia) will be discussed.

Key words: religion, Russian Orthodox Church, submission, consumption