Religious Change among Cohorts in Eastern Europe: A Longitudinal Analysis of Religious Practice and Belief in Formerly Communist Countries

Francesco Molteni


The situation of the former communist countries represents
an anomaly within the sociological debate about the various secularisation
processes currently underway in Europe. The main issues relate to whether
or not Eastern Europe has experienced a religious revival following the fall of
communism and, if so, which dimensions of religiosity are most involved in
that revival. Sociologists have yet to reach a clear consensus on country trends
or on the impact of Christian doctrines on these processes. We will address
these issues throughout this article. The results from different piecewise
regression analyses of European Values Study (EVS) data show that regular
religious practice in general is declining from cohort to cohort, whereas
religious belief has shown a revival followed by a decrease from the oldest to
the youngest cohorts. The impact of a country’s main religious traditions is a
relevant factor; predominantly Orthodox countries, for example, break with
the overall results by showing a slight increase of religious practice as well
as stable (and very high) belief among the youngest cohort. This situation is
primarily driven by data from the Russian Federation and Bulgaria.


religiosity, Eastern, Europe, multidimensional, cohort

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