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Contemporary approaches to the study of priest role differentiation in Western academic literature

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2018. Vol. 7. No. 2. Pp. 119-131.
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Krihtova T.
Saint-Tichon’s Orthodox University
6-1 Likhov Lane, 127051 Moscow, Russia
Aleksin K.
Saint-Tichon’s Orthodox University
6-1 Likhov Lane, 127051 Moscow, Russia


In the article, the main approaches in Western sociological tradition of the analysis of role differentiation of priests (the role theory, the sociology of professions, the theory of conflict of expectations) are described. In the 20th century, a rather strong tradition of studying roles and specialization of Catholic and Protestant priests appeared. The authors of the article did not found theoretical comprehension of priest’s roles in Russian Orthodox Church, so they made a decision to use theories, which were created on the base of Catholic and Protestant priests. Studying modern religious situation, one can come across the idea that priests have certain roles, according to which they behave in their church ministry and everyday life. The authors study in detail the main trends and methodological approaches to the problems of the priest’s roles: role conflict and change of priests’ activities, contentment with roles and narrow specialization. After the highlighting of the main ideas of Western sociological research about the roles of priests, authors came to the conclusion that, despite a large number of similar works, both their methodological attitudes and conclusions look quite consistent with each other. Different approaches study the role of priests from different sides rather than conflict with each other. In the end of the article, it is suggested to use all these theories in the studying of Russian Orthodox priesthood.


  • • sociology of religion
  • • priesthood
  • • role
  • • role theory
  • • orthodoxy


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