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The project’s first stage is focused on pressing issues of the sociology of religion. The general policy during the first year of the project is to rethink the notion of “things Soviet” in the post-Soviet and Western contexts. The world today is experiencing rapid transformations prompted in particular by the processes of de-secularization and the shift to post-secularism. Sociologists everywhere have registered a re-birth of religion and religiosity. These transformations have provoked hot discussions aimed at rethinking the conventional ideas of “religion” and “the secular” and the pressing issues involved in these notions.

Questions for study and discussion:

  • What does “the secular” mean? What are existing approaches of the understanding of “the secular”?
  • Have the theories of secularization been really falsified? What is relevant and what is obsolete in the secularization theories?
  • What is the post-secular? Which societies can be said to shift to the post-secular state?
  • What is the specificity of the phenomenon of “public religions”? Is religion really no longer a private affair?
  • Can the increasing social significance of religions make a beneficial impact on modern societies? Where should this impact be localized?
  • Religion and modernity: how far are they compatible?
  • What does the principle of secularity may imply for today’s post-secular societies?
  • What is the cause of difference in the patterns of secularization and accordingly in the shift to post-secularism? What are the specific features of the post-Soviet pattern of secularization and de-secularization?
  • Where does the borderline lie between the religious and the secular? How far is this borderline stable? Who is responsible for drawing this borderline?
  • Limits to religious freedom: where does religion ends and its interference in law, economy, politics, culture, etc. begins?
  • How to localize religion in the context of a post-secular society presupposing a move beyond the conventional ideas of the religious and the secular? Who is to supervise the demarcation of the legitimate, “its own” space of religion?
  • What are the contemporary approaches to the identification of the religiosity phenomena, their description and dimension?

To highlight these and many other problems involved in the growing presence of religion in society, leading foreign sociologists of religion have been invited to take part in the project. Among them:

Charles Taylor, a world-renowned philosopher, Christian thinker, winner of the Templeton Prize (McGill University, Montreal, Canada);

David Martin, a classic of modern sociology of religion, London School of Economics;

Jose Casanova, one of the leading experts in the sociology of religion (Georgetown University, USA);

Roger Trigg, a leading researcher at the Ian Ramsey Centre of the University of Oxford;

Brian Grim, a senior researcher at the authoritative Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project engaged in the studies of religion-society interaction in today’s world.

Scholars from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have been selected on a competition basis to undertake a study on the above-mentioned problems under the guidance of Prof. Jose Casanova.

It is planned to have the following five visits of invited lecturers within a year:

17-20 June 2013, Kiev – Prof. Charles Taylor, McGill University, Canada
11-14 September 2013, Moscow – Prof. David Martin, Lancaster University, Great Britain
2-6 October 2013, St. Petersburg – Dr. Roger Trigg, University of Oxford, Great Britain
3-6 April 2014, Moscow – Brian Grim, researcher, Pew Research Center, USA
5-7 June 2014 – Prof. Jose Casanova, Georgetown University, USA


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