A. P. Romanova, M. S. Topchiev, D. A. Chernichkin, V. S. Dryagalov, A. V. Rogov

Abstract. In the last few years, virtual space has had a direct impact on almost all spheres of human life activity. Religious identity in post-Soviet Russia is becoming an important part of national identity for many ethnic groups again, and it is reflected in virtual space as well. Russian religious virtual space has a number of characteristic properties. Firstly, the space stays within the limits of the Russian content due to the prevalence of the Russian-speaking users. Secondly, it is basically used by the youth audiences, as the older generation lack digital skills. Besides, it is accounted for by the specifics of the Russian Orthodox Church traditions which reject money-grabbing and glorify redemption and repentance, unlike marketing-oriented virtual space. Although Russian virtual space has no regulation or restrictions for its use by the clergymen, it is basically the Russian young people who are (far more than the older generation) involved into virtual world. The aim of the research is to identify and to reveal factors of virtual space influence on religious identity in Russian student community. The main methods of the research are content-analysis of the religious virtual space, and a complex sociological survey based on focus-group and in-depth interviews resorted to, to analyze the experience of the respondents’ participation in network religious projects, as well as to scrutinize their value orientations to estimate the influence of the latter upon the religious identity formation. The research is an original complex content within which Russian religious space was constructed on the basis of C. Helland’s typology and the predominant methods of networking were indicated, accounting for its influence on the religious identity formation. Special attention has been paid to revealing the general attitude of the respondents to virtual forms of religious networking. On the basis of the research the main trends of Rus-sian digital space influence on religious identity construction have been identified.

Keywords: virtual space, religious identity, online religion, religion online, student youth, South of Russia.
DOI: 10.31429/26190567-20-2-99-120