From Traditional Religiosity to Religious Diversity - Youth and Religion in Post-Soviet Latvia

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 7:00 PM
Room: Harbor Lounge B
Distributed Paper
Anu HEINONEN , Comparative religion, University of Helsinki, Brussels, Finland
Traditionally Latvia has been described as a Lutheran country with a Catholic Latgale region in the South Eastern part of the country. During the Soviet period between 1940 and 1990 religion was in a marginal, and only after the collapse of the Soviet Union the revival of the religious life became possible. Now, twenty years after the new independence, there are three main denominations (Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox) and several minority religions making the religious field pluralistic. According to youth researchers, young people in the Western and Eastern Europe today are increasingly similar. Important difference among the youth in the West and the East is economic resources which is causing obligatory cohabitation in the family of origin which is influencing more widely attitudes of young people. The qualitative and quantitative data that has been collected among the university students in 1999 and 2010/2011 in the city of Riga will answer to the question what is the role of religion for emerging adults in a post-soviet society. The paper examines youth and different dimensions of religion (e.g. belief, practice, affiliation) and what are the differences among the attitudes of young people with ethnically different backgrounds in the country where approximately 40 % of inhabitants belong to the so called "Russian speaking minority". How do young people, born in the end of 1970s and 1980s, themselves see the role of family and other traditional authorities in religious socialization? The study belongs to the field of sociology of religion and to the youth study because it explores the changing attitudes and religiosity of young people in one of the post-soviet societies.