Meaning and Purpose in a Non-Western Modernity


Author: Gleb Tsipursky, Ph.D

Category: Articles

Pages: 13

JEPP Issue: Vol. 6 No. 1

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A deep and rich sense of life meaning and purpose is a vital component of health and wellbeing, according to research studies in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Mainstream opinion in the United States public sphere typically perceives God as the key to life meaning and purpose. Moreover, many studies confirm that frequent church attendance correlates with a stronger sense of meaning and purpose. However, correlation is not causation, and this article will dig deeper into the data to find out what kind of decisions actually helps people gain a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. A more thorough look at the literature demonstrates that belief in God and religious affiliation is only one means of gaining meaning and purpose in life. Non-western modern societies that are more secular find means other than religion to satisfy people’s needs for a deep sense of meaning and purpose. This paper will use the case study of the Soviet Union to demonstrate how one modern secularly-oriented society did so through club activities. It shows how people formed deep social bonds in state-sponsored community settings through club activities. Such bonds and community belonging helped Soviet citizens find a deep sense of meaning and purpose, and lead to their support of the Soviet system, meeting the goals of the Soviet leadership and the personal needs and desires of Soviet citizens alike. The article thus concludes that the Soviet authorities, at least in the late 1950s and 60s, created a system that shaped the decisions of Soviet citizens along the lines favored by the regime.