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Demystifying consumption culture in Islamic societies

Jafari, Aliakbar and Suerdem, Ahmet (2010) Demystifying consumption culture in Islamic societies. In: ACR Workshop on Enhancing the Status of Consumer Research in Non-Western Contexts, 2010-07-05 - 2010-07-06. (Unpublished)

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In this conceptual paper, we examine the notion of consumption culture in Islamic societies. We expand on 'multiple Islams' and differentiate between institutionalised religion and religion as culture. We argue that like every religion, Islam has the potential to be used as an ideological tool to justify certain political objectives. This use of Islam had long encouraged its portrayal as a fanatic and hardcore legitimisation of oppressive regimes. This 'Orientalist' view depicted Islam as the absolute 'Other' of everything such as secularism, democracy and freedom Western values stood for. The aim of this paper is to contest the portrayal of Islam as a political system and demonstrate that in its cultural form religious symbols of Islam are in a constant interpretation process within everyday life activities. We argue that Islam as a religion is a transcendental activity such as art and philosophy that endows the individual with a noumenal consciousness tool for making sense of the phenomenal world of the everyday activities. This tool is a loosely structured symbols system that allows for a constant reinterpretation of everyday activities.