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The question raised in the article is related to the self-identification of Orthodox Christians in the meaning of their conscious desire to be buried in a certain way. The novelty of the study is the use of a socio-psychological approach to study the socio-cultural transformations of funeral and memorial rites. The meaning of the ancient Christian obituary practice is deliberately simplified by the author in order to identify traditional and innovative features in the structure of the modern Russian funeral ritual performed on an Orthodox Christian in relation to the original one. At the present stage, it is proposed to trace the personal perception of the phenomenon of “death” using the concept of “self-identification” (the self-image acquired and accepted by the individual), which is associated with the emotional, cognitive, motivational and activity levels of perception of religious knowledge. The author takes into account the variety of symbolic elements of funeral rites, and this study is intended to generalize the recurring features of funeral and memorial rites of Orthodox Christians (preparation of a person for death and actions with the body of the deceased), taking into account the specifics of regional manifestations when covering large enough territories of Russia in the pre-revolutionary, Soviet and post-Soviet periods. The article presents the following conclusions: 1) the funeral ritual or rite is part of the foundation of the culture, ensuring its preservation from deformations; 2) the self-identification of an individual is connected in a certain way with the tradition as a whole; 3) the burial of a body in the ground may reflect an unconscious desire to preserve the identity of the deceased, on a conscious level, following traditional rites indicates group membership; 4) participation in innovative processes and the adoption of models that exist at the regional and macro levels depend on each person and their choice. Highlighted lines of indicated approach can be included in the program of sociological or psychological research issues related to understanding the religious thanatology by modern Russians.

Keywords: funeral and memorial rites, self-identification, Orthodox Christian, tradition, socio-cultural transformations, burial, cremation

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2020.1.83-93

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About the author 

Valeria A. Prikhotko – PhD (Philosophy), lecturer at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, School of Arts and Humanities,
Far Eastern Federal University; build. F, FEFU Campus, 10 Ajax, Russky Island, Vladivostok, Russia, 690922;
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.