Religion in Consumer Society : Brands, Consumers and Markets book cover
1st Edition

Religion in Consumer Society
Brands, Consumers and Markets

ISBN 9781138247727
Published August 26, 2016 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

Presenting an overview of an emerging field in the study of contemporary religion, this book, together with a complementary volume Religion in the Neoliberal Age, explores issues of religion, neoliberalism and consumer society. Claiming that we have entered a new phase that implies more than the recasting of state-religion relations, the authors examine how religious changes are historically anchored in modernity but affected by the commoditization, mediatization, neoliberalization and globalization of society and social life. Religion in Consumer Society explores religion as both shaped by consumer culture and as shaping consumer culture. Following an introduction which critically analyses studies on consumer culture and integrates scholarship in the sociology of religion, this book explores the following topics: how consumerism and electronic media have shaped globalized culture, and how this is affecting religion; the dynamics and characteristics of often overlooked middle-class religion, and how these relate to globalization and differences between 'developed' and 'emerging' countries; emerging trends, and how we understand phenomena as different as mega churches and holistic spiritualistic journeys, and how the pressures of consumer culture act on religious traditions, indigenous and exogenous; the politics of religious phenomena in the Age of Neoliberalism; and the hybrid areas emerging from these reconfigurations of religion and the market. Outlining changes in both the political-institutional and cultural spheres, the contributors offer an international overview of developments in different countries and state of the art representation of religion in the new global political economy.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface, François Gauthier and Tuomas Martikainen; Introduction: consumerism as the ethos of consumer society, François Gauthier, Linda Woodhead and Tuomas Martikainen; Part I Changing World Religions: Religion, individualisation and consumerism: constructions of religiosity in ’liquid’ and ’reflexive’ modernity, Simon Speck; From standardised offer to consumer adaptation: challenges to the Church of Sweden’s identity, Per Pettersson; Packaging religious experience, selling modular religion: explaining the emergence and expansion of megachurches, Stephen Ellingson; The paradoxes of new monasticism in the consumer society, Stefania Palmisano; ’Find your inner God and breathe’: Buddhism, pop culture, and contemporary metamorphoses in American Judaism, Mira Niculescu; Shopping for a Church? Choice and commitment in religious behaviour, Francesca E.S. Montemaggi. Part II Commoditised Spiritualities: Entangled modernity and commodified religion: alternative spirituality and the ’new middle class’, Andrew Dawson; The enchantments of consumer capitalism: beyond belief at the Burning Man festival, François Gauthier; Buddha for sale! The commoditisation of Tibetan Buddhism in Scotland, John S. McKenzie; Mutual interests? Neoliberalism and New Age during the 1980s, Lars Ahlin; Healing or dealing? Neospiritual therapies and coaching as individual meaning and social discipline in late modern Swedish society, Anne-Christine Hornborg; Valuing spirituality: commodification, consumption and community in Glastonbury, Marion Bowman; Bibliography; Index.

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François Gauthier is Professor of Religious Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada, and a specialist of religious formations in 'ultra modernity'. He has previous experience researching and writing on the rapports between religion, politics and economics in modern and contemporary society as well as on religion theory. He has experience editing volumes on these topics in both English and French, in reputed journals as well as in book form. His research interests are in the dynamics of religion with respect to the consumer ethos, electronic media and neoliberal policy. He edits the 'Religion, ethics and symbolism' section of the on-line Revue du MAUSS permanente ( and is part of the editing committee of the influential French social science journal Revue du MAUSS semestrielle. He has published widely in journals and books in both English and French, and is currently writing a book entitled Le mythe de l'autonomie. Religion, politique et économique en modernité (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer). Tuomas Martikainen is a Docent and University Researcher of Comparative Religion in the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is also member of executive general management team of the Post-Secular Culture and a Changing Religious Landscape in Finland Centre of Excellence in Ã…bo Akademi University, and a specialist of contemporary religious and ethnic diversity in Finland. He has previous experience researching and writing on religion and society and editing volumes on religion and immigration, including the textbooks and article compilations. Martikainen's research interest is in neoliberalism and new forms of minority governance in western societies, and he is currently editing Muslims at the Margins: Reflections on Post-1990 Immigration to Finland. He has also edited six books in the Finnish language and has published widely in English.


’This timely book on the study of religion and consumerism opens new perspectives in, and is a major contribution to, this field of study. It brings together leading and emergent scholars to push our knowledge of religion and spirituality further.’ Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney, Australia ’This is an extremely valuable book-on two counts. Firstly, it exhibits a high degree of theoretical adventurousness as it explores the relationship between religion and consumer culture. Secondly, its editors have clearly encouraged the contributors to think broadly: the chapters cover a tremendous amount of territory without trying to create a premature accord. Together with its companion volume, Religion in the Neoliberal Age, it promotes a creative rethinking of the nature of religion in the contemporary world. Sociology needs such creativity, if it is to understand religion’s emerging forms.’ Journal of Contemporary Religion