Deprivation Theory as a Tool to Study Non-traditional Religiousity

Deprivation Theory as a Tool to Study Non-traditional Religiousity

Isaeva V.B.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Associate Researcher, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, Saint Petersburg, Russia

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The article is supported by the grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project No. 18-011-00561

For citation:

Isaeva V.B. Deprivation Theory as a Tool to Study Non-traditional Religiousity. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2019. No 9. P. 39-50


How non-traditional religiosity can be explained in the framework of deprivation theory appears to be a key question in the current debate in the sociology of religion. The scholars argue that in the context of modernization and cultural transformations deprivation plays an important role as a force stimulating individuals to become religious. The article considers four conceptual models of religious conversion in the light of deprivation approach: institutional (C.Y. Glock), market (R. Stark, W.S. Bainbridge), neotraditionalist (R. Inglehart, P. Norris) and existential (R. Stark). The main issue for comparative perspective of the theoretical models is cultural and structural problematic in the consideration of reasons of non-traditional religiosity. The analysis shows that despite criticism the deprivation theory possesses analytical potential for conceptualizing religious conversion in the contemporary world. The approach needs further elaboration taking into account different levels of analysis – macro and micro, and various aspects of deprivation processes – cultural and socio-economic. The author concludes that the development of deprivation approach in the sociology of religion is possible through the concept of social exclusion to clarify societal conditions resulting in deprivation of individuals. The hypothesis about interconnectedness of structural and cultural exclusion with material and spiritual deprivation, respectively, is formulated to be tested in the empirical research of religious conversion.

religious conversion; deprivation theory; conceptual model; social exclusion; modernization


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Content No 9, 2019