Ethnodoxy: How Popular Ideologies Fuse Religious and Ethnic Identities



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 52, Issue 1, iv, Article first published online: 1 March 2013

  • Acknowledgments: The research presented in this article was supported by funds provided by the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER), under authority of a Title VIII grant from the U.S. Department of State. Neither NCEEER nor the U.S. government is responsible for the views expressed in this article.

Vyacheslav Karpov, Department of Sociology, Western Michigan University, 2511 Sangren Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5257, USA. E-mail:


Popular beliefs conflating ethnic identities with particular faiths can lead to marginalization of religiously and ethnically “other” and fuel ethnoreligious conflict even in secularized societies. Despite their importance to ethnoreligious conflict and coexistence, ideological conflations of faith and ethnos have previously received little scholarly attention. We fill the gap by introducing the concept of ethnodoxy: a collectively held belief system that rigidly links a group's ethnic identity to its dominant faith. We theorize this phenomenon at three levels: macro (the interplay between religion and ethnonational identities), micro (construction of ethnoreligious identities and imagined communities viewed from a social identity theory perspective), and meso (the nature and functions of popular ideologies and religiosities). Subsequently, ethnodoxy is conceptualized as an ideal-typical syndrome of six component beliefs. We further operationalize and verify the concept using representative national survey data from Russia. Findings show ethnodoxy's extent, coherence, dimensionality, and associations with religious and ethnic intolerance.