Most people today are born, grow, learn, work, and live in a world shaped by consumer culture, and this inevitably affects their search for religious and spiritual meaning in life. With this special issue, the Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion extends an invitation to scholars in the field of marketing, consumer research and related disciplines to contribute to the journal with their best work on the marketing and consumption of spirituality and religion.
Since its inception, JMSR has become the reference point for researchers interested in the religious and spiritual aspects of managing and organizing, publishing cutting-edge research in management, leadership, business ethics, human resources, and organizational behavior. Yet, workers, entrepreneurs, managers and leaders, once they leave the doors of their workplace, become consumers; at the same time, the organizations they spend their working time in, more often than not, need to sell products and services in the marketplace to survive and thrive. Theories and concepts developed in the context of marketing and consumer research can therefore add insight to our understanding of the religious aspects and spiritual expressions of managing and organizing. Additionally, marketing and consumption studies can shed light on a variety of little understood phenomena that are prevalent in secularized societies where religious organizations and new spiritual movements alike operate in a competitive marketplace, where postmodern consumers mix and match values, philosophies and ideas coming from different religious and spiritual traditions, and where globalization, the internet, tourism, and immigration provide access to spiritual and religious resources and communities at an unprecedented scale.
In their mapping of literature in the field, Rinallo, Maclaran and Scott (2013b) highlight four areas of research which all fall within the scope of the current special issue (see figure 1 below). Their quadripartite classification of extant literature is built on Belk et al.’s (1989) influential seminal work on the sacred and profane in consumer research. By suggesting that the sacred can be empirically investigated, and by putting the sacred aspect of consumption at the core of what is now known as consumer culture theory, Belk et al. (1989) paved the way for and shaped subsequent exploration of consumers’ and marketers’ sacralization of the mundane. Figure 1 differentiates the marketing and consumption of religion and spirituality in a strict sense from the sacred elements of profane consumer behavior, and further distinguishes contributions based on whether the key agents investigated are consumers or marketers, thus providing a useful representational tool to map the field.
Source: Adapted from Rinallo, Scott and Maclaran (2013b)
Much of the work cited in our reference list examines consumers’ sacralization of mundane products, services and brands (e.g., Belk and Tumbat, 2005; Muñiz and Schau, 2005). Much less researched are the processes through which marketers and brands call upon spirituality and religion to enhance the value of their offerings. Despite the advice contained in popular management books on how to create brand cults and ‘turn customers into believers’ (Atkin, 2004; Ragas and Bueno, 2002), only recently has research started to unpack the processes involved in brands’ cooptation of religious ideologies (Izberk-Bilgin, 2012) or their open transgression of religious values and practices (Rinallo et al., 2012). Similarly, the marketing practices of religious/spiritual organizations, leaders and movements have been until recently the subject of a reduced attention in marketing and consumer research, despite heightened interest – often critical in nature – outside the field (e.g., Cimino and Lattin, 1999; Einstein, 2008; Lyon, 2000; Miller, 2004; Moore, 1994; Twitchell, 2007). The theme of religious marketing and consumption has surfaced in marketing journals (see recent special issues of the International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing [2010, Vol. 15, n. 4] and Journal of Macromarketing [forthcoming]), and an entire journal is dedicated to the burgeoning field of Islamic Marketing, namely Journal of Islamic Marketing.
With this special issue, we would like to extend current work at the interface of marketing, consumption, spirituality, and religion. We also encourage scholars in organization studies, business ethics, leadership and other management disciplines to submit work that explicitly addresses marketing and/or consumption issues in their investigations of the spiritual and religious aspects of managing and organizing. While not exhaustive, the following list suggests possible issues that we would like to address in this special issue.
- The consumption of spirituality and religion
- Identity, community and religious/spiritual consumption
- The impact of religious ideologies and values on the marketing and consumption of profane goods
- The material culture of religion and spirituality
- Religion/religiosity, spirituality and consumer wellbeing
- The marketization of religious/spiritual holidays, rituals and rites de passage
- Spiritual materialism
- Religious/spiritual consumption across the consumer lifecycle
- The marketing strategies of religious organizations and new religious/spiritual movements (and its discontents); the organization of marketing in these domains
- Religious history from a marketing perspective
- The marketing management of religious/spiritual products, services and experiences
- The role of spirituality and religiosity in the marketing and consumption of ‘mundane’ brands, products, and experiences
- The marketing behavior of religiously aligned organizations
- Entertainment brands as sources of spiritual meaning (e.g., sport brands, Star Wars, Star Trek)
- Gender and sexuality issues in the marketing and consumption of religion and spirituality
- The globalization of religious/spiritual marketing and consumption: orientalism, postcolonialism, creolization/syncretization, cultural appropriation, tourism, immigration
- Religion and spirituality in the digital age
This special issue welcomes empirical, methodological, and conceptual papers. In terms of methods, we are open to both qualitative and quantitative research designs, as long as data gathering and analysis procedures are rigorous. Similarly, we welcome positivist, interpretive, and critical approaches alike. We also want to encourage work based on theoretical reflection on religion and spirituality outside of marketing, consumer research, organization studies and management (e.g., psychology, sociology, anthropology, theology, cultural studies, political science, history, geography, etc.). Methodological and conceptual papers are also encouraged, provided that they make appropriate contributions. Finally, we will consider both theoretical work and managerially oriented contributions.
A few final caveats. First, spirituality and religion are often distinguished both in everyday talk and at the analytical level. Sometimes, excessively rigid definitions characterize religion/religiosity in negative terms (e.g., as static, institutionalized, belief-based) and in opposition to spirituality, seen more favorably as dynamic, personal, and experience-based. While differences between religion and spirituality do exist, we concur with those who propose that the former can be a pathway to the latter, as religion “can be viewed as a road map for spirituality, a road map that contains in its beliefs and symbols the accumulated wisdom of those who have made the journey before” (Kale, 2004: p. 95). Second, we hope to include in this special issue papers covering a great variety of religions and spiritualities: not only the world religions, but also smaller, less known and/or younger religious/spiritual movements. Finally, we want to recommend the utmost respect and cultural sensitivity in dealing with ‘other’ religious/spiritual beliefs and practices.
Special Issue Guest Editors:
Diego Rinallo, Ph.D., is associate professor of marketing at Kedge Business School, Marseilles, France. His work on consumer culture and its influence on spirituality and religion has been published in the Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Macromarketing, and various conference proceedings. His is co-editor of Consumption and Spirituality (Routledge, 2012) and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion. Some of his work can be accessed at https://kedgebs.academia.edu/DiegoRinallo
Mathieu Alemany Oliver, Ph.D., is a marketing researcher and lecturer at Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management–IAE Aix, Aix-Marseille Université, Aix-en-Provence, France.
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Format and Submission Information
Submitted manuscripts should follow the format as indicated in the author guidelines on the journal website: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=rmsr20&page=instructions#.VwzCEjam72g
As a guide, papers should be of no more than 9,000 words (excluding references, tables, figures, etc.). Papers will be reviewed by the special issue guest editors and, if judged as within the scope of the special issue, will be sent to two referees for double-blind peer review. Submissions should be made via the journal’s manuscript submission site: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/rmsr
If you are interested in reviewing for this special issue, please contact the guest editors.
Submission Deadline and timeline
The deadline for electronic submission is April 10th, 2017. Following an initial review by the guest editors, if not desk rejected, papers will be double blind reviewed and authors notified.