Ekaterina Alexandrova of the HSE in St. Petersburg and Elena Kalabina of the Ural State University of Economics in Yekaterinburg presented their findings concerning a link between religious and professional values in the report 'How Religious Identities Influence the Job Search and Choice Processes'.
In modern society, people's attitudes and values change often, resulting in a shift of identity. For example, the number of religious believers has been declining worldwide; according to Gallup, the number of believers dropped by 20% in France, by 13% in the U.S., and by 2% in Russia between 2005 and 2012.
However, the Russian Levada Center reports a significant increase in believers over a longer period of two decades: from 16%-19% in the early nineties to about 80% in 2012.
According to polls, 58.8 million of the 143.1 million Russians identify with Orthodox Christianity and attend the Russian Orthodox Church, another 2.1 million consider themselves Orthodox Christians but do not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, while 5.9 million identify with Christianity but do not consider themselves Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant.
Some 6.7 million people are Muslims but are neither Sunni nor Shia. More than 36 million Russians say they believe in God but do not profess a particular religion. Russia’s Catholics number 140,000, and the same number of people profess Judaism.
In post-Soviet years, Russian society perceived the church as an institution promoting the values of charity, humanity, and justice; for many people, religion filled the post-Soviet ideological vacuum and helped them develop new behaviours and moral principles in the new environment.
Faced by an identity crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many people found support in religious dogmas telling them clearly what to do and how to do it. But for most Russians today, religious practice is limited to rituals, ceremonies, and formalities.
Being part of a religious tradition gives people a 'magical' means of controlling the uncertainty in their environment; at the same time one can observe a rise of archaic and primitive ideas about life, society, employment, and human beings.
The authors surveyed 6,012 employed and unemployed people from various religious backgrounds in the South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – about their perceptions of what it takes to find a 'good' job.
The researchers then conducted a content analysis of attitudes and values of job seekers who profess Christianity – members of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church – and Islam. The authors used a multinomial logit model to identify the perceived main factors of getting a 'good' job and calculated conditional probabilities to establish correspondences between the respondents' values and their perception of job opportunities.
Muslim job seekers considered education and the ability to please the right people the most important factors in finding a job, while the applicant's age and appearance or luck did not seem so important to them.
Respondents who identified with the Armenian Apostolic Church considered good looks, the appropriate age, and good connections to be the most important factors, while discounting such factors as talent and luck.
Respondents identifying with the Georgian Orthodox Church believed good luck and having the proper skills for the job and higher than average ability to be far more important than pleasing the right people or having good looks.
Knowing how members of different religions perceive employment opportunities may explain the social, economic, and psychological reasons behind their methods of seeking and choosing jobs; this information may be useful, in particular, to immigration and employment authorities and to intermediaries in the labour market.