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Book: Navigating Universalism and Particularism in the Study of Religions

Chapter: Conceptualizations of the “Sacred Individual”: A Comparative Study of Russian and Finnish Young Adults

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44299


This chapter explores data gathered among young adults in Russia and Finland in light of the Durkheimian notion of the “sacred individual”. The notion of the sacred individual is grounded in the contention that accelerating modern-time processes of individualization and pluralization have given rise to a situation where the personal autonomy, rights, and self-determination of the unique individual have accrued non-contingent, “sacred” status. By identifying and exploring Russian and Finnish respondents’ loadings on a smaller set of Faith-Q Sort (FQS) statements – referred to as the “sacred individual sub-set” – the chapter thereby explores the extent to which the FQS data can be used as a means to empirically test and elaborate on broader theoretical perspectives. In so doing, it also aims to demonstrate how the mixed methods data can usefully be approached and analyzed from multiple theoretical perspectives. The FQS analyses are further combined with the Finnish and Russian interview data in order to further illustrate how the notion of the sacred individual provides a particular lens for making sense of respondents’ repeated emphasis on the importance of respecting and tolerating the viewpoints and outlooks of others.

Chapter Contributors

  • Polina Vrublevskaya ( - pvrublevskaya) 'St. Tikhon’s University, Moscow'
  • Marcus Moberg ( - mmoberg) 'Åbo Akademi University'
  • Karoliina Dahl ( - kdahl) 'Åbo Akademi University'