Towards an understanding of religion-related vulnerability in consumer society

Jafari, Aliakbar; Hamilton, Kathy and Dunnett, Susan and Piacentini, Maria, eds. (2015) Towards an understanding of religion-related vulnerability in consumer society. In: Vulnerable Consumers. Routledge Studies in Critical Marketing . Routledge, Oxon, pp. 173-184. ISBN 9780415858588

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Abstract

Religion is significantly understudied in consumer vulnerability discourses and the limited existing work lacks conceptual clarity and relevance to the broader debates on the status of religious change in contemporary society. This essay is an attempt to address this overlook by (1) delineating how and why discussions of religion relate to the issues of vulnerability in consumer society; (2) problematising the notion of religion-based vulnerability; and (3) setting forth a case towards conceptualising this type of vulnerability. My core argument is that such vulnerability should be understood primarily against the macro environmental factors that impact public perceptions of and engagement with religion and religiosity. I will develop my argument in the following manner: First, I will clarify why religion matters to the subject of consumer vulnerability and set forth some anecdotal evidence to guide the discussion. Next, I will provide an overview of the key theoretical debates on the status of religion and religiosity in society. This should shed light on the prevailing trends in the landscape of religion and their underlying forces. In light of these, I will then discuss how perceptions of and engagement with religion can cause or influence vulnerability. I will conclude by highlighting some areas for further conceptualisation and empirical research.