UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Structural analysis of Sobranija : Doukhobor and Russian Orthodox Newell, Claire Marion


The thesis investigates the Doukhobor meeting which has been treated in the literature as the religious-economic-social-political institution. Previous writers have assumed that Doukhobors do not differentiate their activities. A failure to recognize that there are several distinct kinds of meetings can lead to a definition of the community meeting as a "multipurpose" meeting, a definition which, the thesis maintains, is not consistent with the Doukhobor definition. In the literature the Doukhobor meeting has been referred to as the "community meeting," "prayer service," "business meeting" or sobranie. In determining the characteristics and the precise nature of the meeting, ambiguities arise. In the thesis one approach used to explain the variations in the descriptions of a sobranie is the reconstruction of a meeting as it took place in the nineteenth century. Discrepancies between the accounts can, in part, be understood in terms of deviations from the historical prototype. Some variations peculiar to three Doukhobor factions can be explained by historical developments within each of the separate groups. However, a comparison with the historical accounts does not completely explain the differences that are apparent among meetings presently held. It is therefore necessary to consider other ways of explaining the variations among these meetings. This thesis argues that the "community meeting" does not encompass such a diverse range of activities as is suggested in the literature. Further, it is demonstrated that Doukhobors distinguish several types of meetings which are held on separate occasions and that unique terms are designated to each of these meetings. By constructing a folk taxonomy of gatherings it is shown that Doukhobors distinguish several types of special purpose meetings. On the basis of this, it is argued that there are two levels of contrast to the term sobranie and that Doukhobors differentiate the Sobranie or "Community Meeting" from the molenie or "prayer meeting." The various Doukhobor meetings are subsequently classified according to the participants categorization of activities. This has important implications with regard to the manner in which meetings and activities are classified by the various Doukhobor factions. There is a presumed historical relationship between the Doukhobors and the Russian Orthodox Church, implying that there are, or were, connections between the two. Given that Doukhobors dissented from the Russian Orthodox Church, differences are assumed by definition, while similarities may either persist or not. When a relationship can be shown to exist between some activities and others, this not only demonstrates the connection between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Doukhobors but also suggests hypotheses which explain the behavior of the latter in terms of the former. Because Doukhobors and Russian Orthodox members are both Russian speakers, a comparison of their taxonomies is made to ascertain whether or not they order their meetings and activities in a similar manner and whether they are making similar classifications with either the same or different terms. Briefly, the concern of the thesis lies with the activities which occur at a Doukhobor Sunday meeting. The thesis also examines the terms used to describe the activities and the meetings. Comparisons are made among the meetings held by the various Doukhobor factions and these in turn are compared with the Sunday meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church. The distinction between sobranie and Sobranie is an analytical one and is discussed at length in the thesis.

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