Religion in Consumer Society – University of Copenhagen

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ADI Conference 2018 > Panels > Religion in Consumer S...

10th Annual International ADI Conference
Asian Dynamics Initiative, University of Copenhagen
18-20 June 2018    


Religion in Consumer Society: Perspectives from Asia

Conveners: Trine Brox, Jane Caple and Elizabeth Williams-Oerberg, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Over the past three decades, we have witnessed astonishing economic growth and the emergence of new markets and cultures of consumption across Asia. Rather than being eclipsed by such ‘late modern’ transformations, traditional and new forms of religion are intertwined with contemporary consumer cultures. Entailing the mediation of “various areas of social life … through market relations in the form of the consumption of commodities,” a consumer culture is one in which “marketization, commoditization, advertisement and branding are fundamental processes” (Gauthier and Martikainen 2013: 3). These processes coalesce in the growth of commercialized religion. This includes the sale for profit of: (i) experiences, such as meditation courses and pilgrimage tourism; (ii) messages, including mediatized religious teachings in the form of books, games, and audio-visual recordings; and (iii) things: material objects such as statues and icons that can function as both a decoration and recipient of offerings. Such religious commerce is certainly nothing new, but the scale and scope is. Mass-production enables an endless supply of a variety of religious products and services that are accessible and affordable to consumers far beyond historical religious and economic networks.

This interdisciplinary panel seeks to bring together scholars working on religion in Asia’s contemporary consumer societies, spanning a range of regions and including both rural and urban contexts. Avoiding normative approaches to consumption and commodification, papers will draw on original empirical research to consider themes such as:

  • The impact of consumer society on the rituals, identities, material cultures, traditions, values, ethics, world-views, ways of life, philosophies, sciences, even the secularisms associated with different religions in Asia;
  • The new forms that symbols, objects, teachings and practices assume as they are mass-produced, packaged and marketed for consumption and/or made into profitable businesses;
  • The analytical gains and limitations of using economic terminology in the study of contemporary religions.

Please submit your abstract to Marie Yoshida (
1 March 2018.

Please include in your submission:

  • Name, institutional affiliation, short bio
  • Abstract that clearly lays out the title, argument and methodology (approx 250 words)
  • Intended panel  

Conveners and organizing committee will assess the submitted abstracts and inform you of the decision soon hereafter.