EXPLORING THE PATTERNS OF RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE IN POST-SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA AND AZERBAIJAN
Igor HIMELFARB, Neli ESIPOVA
Igor Himelfarb, Ph.D. degree in Education, Master’s degree in Statistics, held a position of Advanced Design and Analytics Associate with The Gallup Organization. Currently, holds a position of Associate Psychometrician at Educational Testing Service (San Francisco, CA, the U.S.)
Neli Esipova, Several Master’s degrees including a Master’s degree in Market Research, Regional Director for the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe at The Gallup Organization (Princeton, NJ, the U.S.)
Research indicates that in Central Asia and Azerbaijan the patterns of devotion to the Islamic faith are not uniform. Although the vast majority of Central Asians consider Islam to be an integral part of their social identity, the years of rule by the Soviet regime have affected the Islamic faith. This study investigates the different patterns of religious observance in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan. Latent class analysis (LCA) is used to examine the profiles of religious observance based on data obtained from the Gallup World Poll. Across the five countries, three distinct classes emerge from the analyses: Devout Pious, Moderate Pious, and Soviet Muslims. Additionally, the predictive variables are considered and demographic covariates are examined in multinomial logistic regressions. Gender, educational level, and income are predictive of class membership in most of these countries. This study is a ground-breaking attempt to quantitatively examine classifications of devotion to Islam in post-Soviet republics with a majority Muslim population.
Keywords: Islamic religiosity, Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Latent class analysis.