Skip to main content

The Cyclical Movement of Religions: From Unity toward … Unity


The cyclical character of the formation and development of confessional spaces as affected by competition between religions has been established. As a result of a weakening monopoly and growth of religious competition, a once prevailing religion is gradually ousted either by another religion (the R-cycle of religious competition) or—which has become a distinctive feature of the 19th‒21st centuries—by secular ideologies (in the case of social secularization, the S-cycle; political secularization, the SP-cycle). In addition, considerably long intercyclic stages of religious saturation have been identified. The common property of the three types of cycles is their aperiodicity. Characteristic of R- and SP-cycles are also intermittence, reversibility, and the ability to develop in parallel to one another and to R-cycles. The territorial expansion of the cycles is wavelike but is differentiated within the structure of the confessional space: R-cycles are confined to countries and their administrative territorial units, and SP-cycles, to the world’s macroregions. Note that the S-cycles have no limitations.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1.


  1. N. A. Berdyaev, The New Middle Ages (Direkt-Media, Moscow, 2008) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  2. M. I. Tugan-Baranovskii, Periodic Industrial Crises (Direkt-Media, Moscow, 2008) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  3. C. Juglar, Des crises commerciales et de leur retour périodique en France, en Angleterre et aux États-Unis (Guillaumin, Paris, 1862).

    Google Scholar 

  4. S. Kuznets, Secular Movements in Production and Prices: Their Nature and Their Bearing upon Cyclical Fluctuations (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1930).

    Google Scholar 

  5. J. Dromel, La loi des révolutions, les générations, les nationalités, les dynasties, les religions (Didier et ce., Paris, 1862).

  6. O. Lorenz, Die Geschichtswissenschaft in Hauptrichtungen und Aufgaben (W. Hertz, Berlin, 1886).

    Google Scholar 

  7. F. Braudel, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme XVeXVIIIe siècle, Vol. 3: Le temps du monde, 4th ed. (Armand Colin, Paris, 1986).

    Google Scholar 

  8. L. N. Gumilev, Ethnogenesis and the Earth’s Biosphere (Gidrometeoizdat, Leningrad, 1990) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  9. N. Ya. Danilevskii, Russia and Europe, Ed. by O. A. Pla-tonov, 2nd ed. (Inst. Russ. Tsivilizatsii, Moscow, 2011) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  10. O. Spengler, Der Untergarg des Abendlandes: Umrisse einer Morphologic der Weltgeschichte, Vol. 1: Gestalt und Wirklichkeit (Vienna, 1918).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Yu. V. Yakovets, Epochal Innovations of the 21st Century (Ekonomika, Moscow, 2004) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  12. A. I. Treivish, A City, a District, a Country, and the World: Russia’s Development through the Eyes of a Country Scholar (Novyi Khronograf, Moscow, 2009) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  13. P. A. Sorokin, “A survey of the cyclical conception of social and historical processes,” Social Forces, No. 4, 28–40 (1927).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. A. J. Toynbee, A Study of History: A Collection of Articles (Progress, Moscow, 1996) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  15. L. Weber, Le Rythme du progrès: Étude sociologique (F. Alcan, Paris, 1913).

    Google Scholar 

  16. N. D. Kondrat’ev, Major Cycles of Conjuncture and Anticipation Theory: Selected Works (Ekonomika, Moscow, 2002) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  17. V. Pareto, Les Systèmes Socialistes (V. Giard et E. Brière, Paris, 1902).

    Google Scholar 

  18. Ch. Guignebert, L’Évolution des Dogmes (E. Flammarion, Paris, 1910).

    Google Scholar 

  19. A. D. Savateev, “Political Islam in conceptions of Russian researchers,” Islam Sovr. Mire 11 (2), 109–118 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  20. S. A. Gorokhov, Dynamics of the world’s confessional geospace as affected by religious competition, Doctoral Dissertation in Geography (Moscow, 2017).

  21. M. Büttner, “Religion and geography: Impulses for a new dialogue between Religionswissenschaftlern and geographers,” Numen 21 (3), 163–196 (1974).

    Google Scholar 

  22. S. A. Gorokhov, “Religious fractionalization as a factor of regional economic development in the modern world,” Vestn. Mosk. Univ., Ser. 5: Geogr., No. 4, 56–61 (2014).

  23. B. M. Ekkel’, “Determining the mosaicism index of the national composition of the USSR republics, krais, and oblasts,” Sovetskaya Etnografiya, No. 2, 33–42 (1976).

    Google Scholar 

  24. V. I. Pantin, Waves and Cycles of Social Development: Civilizational Dynamics and Modernization Processes (Nauka, Moscow, 2004) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  25. S. A. Gorokhov and R. V. Dmitriev, “Experience of geographical typology of secularization processes in the modern world,” Geogr. Natur. Res. 37 (2), 93–99 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. D. Brown and P. James, Religious characteristics of states dataset, phase 1: Demographics (RCS). 2013–2014. Cited June 18, 2016.

  27. G. Ferrari, Teoria dei periodi politici (Hoepli, Milano, 1874).

    Google Scholar 

  28. V. I. Pantin and A. E. Aivazov, “Kondrat’ev’s and evolutionary cycles of the global system: Justification and prognostic potential,” in Kondrat’ev’s Waves: Aspects and Prospects: A Yearbook, Ed. by A. A. Akaev, R. S. Grinberg, L. E. Grinin, A. V. Korotaev, and S. Yu. Malkov (Uchitel’, Volgograd, 2012), pp. 136–155 [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  29. T. K. Hopkins and I. Wallerstein, “Cyclical rhythms and secular trends of the capitalist world-economy: Some premises, hypotheses and questions,” Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 2 (4), 483–500 (1979).

    Google Scholar 

  30. I. M. Savel’eva and A. V. Poletaev, History and Time: In Search of the Lost (Yazyki Russkoi Kul’tury, Moscow, 1997) [in Russian].

  31. Atlas of Global Christianity: 1910–2010, Ed. by T. M. Johnson and K. R. Ross (Edinburgh Univ. Press, Edinburgh, 2009).

    Google Scholar 

  32. D. B. Barrett, T. K. Kurian, and T. M. Johnson, World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World, 2nd ed., Vol. 1 (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 2001).

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This article was supported within State Assignment no. 0148-2019-0008.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. A. Gorokhov.

Additional information

Translated by B. Alekseev

Stanislav Anatol’evich Gorokhov, Dr. Sci. (Geogr.), is a Leading Research Fellow at the RAS Institute of Geography.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gorokhov, S.A. The Cyclical Movement of Religions: From Unity toward … Unity. Her. Russ. Acad. Sci. 89, 388–395 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • confessional space
  • religious competition
  • cyclicity of development
  • R-,S-, and SP-cycles
  • secular waves