Where religion, community and consumption meet : a qualitative inquiry into the consumption practices of a religious community
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It is well established in the consumption literature that consumption is a way that symbolically constructs and reflects the multiple identities consumers have. A part of individuals' identities has a communal nature, communicating the membership in and belonging to a particular cultural group. In the contemporary era of modernization, characterized by a sense of loss of solidarity and loneliness, consumers constantly search for belonging to a group and bring the mythic and religious into their insecure and disorderly world. Though many consumer studies have theorized the mythic and the religious in consumption communities, consumer research has not yet looked at consumption in religious communities. This study aims at filling this gap by investigating consumption practices of members of a religious community, Fethullah Gülen-inspired movement, in Turkey. The data is presented as two consequential, yet overlapping, processes of entry and settlement in the community. In the first part, motives for entry and the role of consumption during the entry process are discussed. In the second part, the relationship between consumption and the status in the hierarchical structure of the community, delineation of boundaries of legitimate consumption and adjustment of individual consumption practices accordingly are presented. The theoretical implications of these findings for the relationship Between religion, community, and consumption are also discussed.
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