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Regular version of the site

Article

A provocative event, media, and religious choice in post-Soviet Russia

Post-Soviet Affairs. 2016. Vol. 32. No. 6. P. 512-541.

This paper uses the famous events related to Pussy Riot as a natural experiment to examine the effect of alternative media on church membership. A difference-in-differences strategy is used to explore the effect in question. The hypothesis is that, given a lack of religious background in the majority of the population and strong temporary interest in religious issues promoted by a particular provocative event, mass media substantially affect religious choice. To check if this is the case, I compare the dynamics of religious choice of those exposed to alternative media reports on church topics and the rest of the population. As a proxy of familiarity with an alternative view, I use a dummy variable for using the Internet to obtain news. The main finding is that, during the experiment run over the year 2012, the growth of self-reported Orthodox believers was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the control group. Exposure to alternative media coverage turned out to heavily affect religious choice.