AbstractsWomens Studies

Sense of Religion : The Lifelong Religious Practice of the Evacuee Karelian Orthodox Women in Finland

by Helena Kupari

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Department of World Cultures, uskontotiede
Year: 2015
Keywords: uskontotiede
Record ID: 1145819
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153419


This study examines the lived religion of elderly Finnish Orthodox Christian women in present-day Finland. It discusses the women s everyday religious practice within the domestic environment. Furthermore, it also traces the ways in which their religion had been affected by their life histories, the changing status of the Orthodox community, and the modernization of Finnish society in the course of the 20th century. The primary research material for this study consists of interviews of 24 women. Finland is a Lutheran-dominated country; today, about one percent of Finns belong to the Orthodox Church. Traditionally, most of the Orthodox resided in Finnish Karelia. After the Second World War, Finland had to cede large areas of Karelia to the Soviet Union. In the process, two thirds of the Finnish Orthodox lost their homelands. All the interviewees, or their parents, had been among the evacuees from Karelia. The theoretical-methodological approach made use of in the study is based on practice theory. In particular, the concept of habitus as developed by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu is applied to analyze the women s interview accounts. The concept captures Bourdieu s understanding of the reciprocal dynamic between practice, subjectivity, and structures of power. The analysis demonstrates that the interviewees religion was characterized by a movement between routine and reflexive action. Judging from the material, they mostly did religion in a habitual fashion. Nevertheless, they could also perform their practices more intentionally, to reinforce their identity against specific others. These two aspects of the women s religion are traced, respectively, to their childhood religious socialization and their social trajectories as minority religious practitioners in Finnish society. Ultimately, the analysis forms an account of the women s religion as habitus. The informants religious habitus constituted an embodied and practical sense of religion, which informed both their routine religious practices and more conscious and creative religious actions. This study provides a description and a theoretical representation of one particular style of contemporary religiosity: the lifelong religion of older lay women. Within recent scholarship on religion, the religion of women of the inter-war generation has not received much attention. This study, moreover, offers a reading of Bourdieuan social theory as applied to the lived religion of minority practitioners. As such, it illustrates the explanatory potential that a Bourdieuan approach can bring to analyses of relatively stable religion. Tutkimus käsittelee iäkkäiden siirtokarjalaistaustaisten ortodoksinaisten uskontoa nyky-Suomessa. Tarkemmin ottaen tutkimus on tulkinta ortodoksinaisten eletystä uskonnosta ja uskonnollisesta habituksesta eli uskonnon tunnusta (sense of religion). Työn teoreettisen lähtökohdan muodostaa sosiologi Pierre Bourdieun näkemys habituksesta elämänhistoriaa heijastavana makujen ja taipumusten systeeminä, joka ohjaa yksilön käyttäytymistä.…