Religious “Jewishness”:
biographical narrative in a closed group

Оstrovskaya Е.А.

Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Professor, Saint-Petersburg State University, Faculty of Sociology, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

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For citation:

Оstrovskaya Е.А. Religious “Jewishness”: biographical narrative in a closed group. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2016. No 2. P. 110-118


Concept of “religiosity” is in the contemporary professional discourse of the sociology of religion one of the most popular and frequently used. However, applied to the study of this phenomenon is mainly either in quantitative surveys involving a multidimensional measurement model of religiosity, or in polls about religious affiliation. In view of this, the content and structural components of religiosity of different groups do not fall into the focus of researchers’ attention. Inclusion of biographical narratives in the methods’ toolbox enables to identify collective and individual components of religiosity. However, its use in studies of religious groups and actors is accompanied by a number of methodological difficulties, the explanation of which is not always provided in respective manuals. This article offers a detailed analysis of the most complex aspects of the methodology of the biographical narrative: search for respondents, method of conducting such interviews, stages of interviewing. Each stage of explanation is illustrated by examples from the author’s research of the religious Jews of St. Petersburg (2015). The analysis of biographical narrative procedures is done by means of research material about the daily life of Jewish religiosity, specific chronotope of its manifestations and the “we – other” disposition.

biographical narrative; religion; snowball method; reference method sampling; religious Jewry
Content No 2, 2016