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A Sacred Space Is Never EmptyA History of Soviet Atheism$
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Victoria Smolkin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174273

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174273.001.0001

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“We Have to Figure Out Where We Lost People”

“We Have to Figure Out Where We Lost People”

Soviet Atheism as Social Science

(p.142) Chapter Five “We Have to Figure Out Where We Lost People”
A Sacred Space Is Never Empty

Victoria Smolkin

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how the atheist apparatus mobilized the social sciences in order to map patterns of Soviet secularization and understand religious modernization. It first considers the revival of the social sciences and social scientists' role in ideological work before discussing the research carried out by the Institute of Scientific Atheism (INA), especially on the religiosity of the Soviet population. It then explores how atheists tried to figure out how atheism could fulfill spiritual needs in order to develop a positive foundation for atheism, as well as their focus on the role of families and their realization that emotions played a key role in religion. Finally, it describes the Penza project and its claim that the social sciences could be harnessed to finally produce an effective plan for achieving “a society free of religion”.

Keywords:   Soviet atheism, social sciences, Soviet secularization, religious modernization, Institute of Scientific Atheism, religiosity, families, emotions, religion, Penza project

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