JMM Special Issue Call for Papers – the deadline has now passed

Consuming the Spiritual

  • Guest Editor: Katharina C. Husemann, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • Guest Editor: Giana M. Eckhardt, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

In today’s liquid world, where life has much more uncertainty than ever before (Bauman, 2007), and where pace of life is accelerated to the degree where it is difficult to stop for reflection (Rosa, 2013), people are actively searching for answers and meaning in their lives; they are seeking out the spiritual. Places such as pilgrimage sites blossom (Higgins & Hamilton, 2014; Husemann, Eckhardt, Grohs, & Saceanu, 2016), practices such as yoga and meditation thrive around the world (Askegaard & Eckhardt, 2012), and market offerings such as week-long silent retreats in wellness hotels, cloisters or ashrams are increasingly popular vacation choices (Rosa, 2016). People seek out spiritual experiences in hope of self-improvement, transformation, and transcendence (Rinallo, Scott, & Maclaran, 2013).

The field of marketing has become increasingly interested in these intersections between religion, spirituality, and consumption (eg, Arvidsson, 2014; Izberk-Bilgin, 2012; McAlexander, Dufault, Martin, & Schouten, 2014; Veer & Shankar, 2011). There is a growing consensus that there is a complex relationship between marketization, commodification, the spiritual, the religious, identity, and practices such as branding. Burgeoning marketing research at the intersection of consumption and spirituality recognizes that in contemporary late modernity, the search for meaning is becoming more prominent, and consumers along with marketers and spiritual leaders interact to facilitate it (Bamossy et al., 2011; Belk, Wallendorf, & Sherry, 1989; Husemann et al., 2016; Rinallo et al., 2013). Redden (2016) asks if the commodification of spirituality necessarily devalues it, and in answering no, advocates for examining and theorizing commercial dynamics more thoroughly, to illuminate the intersection of the social, cultural and economic in the spiritual.

In mapping out this growing field of marketing/consumption and spirituality/religion, Rinallo et al. (2013) make the point that much of the literature to date focuses on consumers’ sacralization of the mundane (e.g., Muniz & Schau, 2005). We would add that there is also a healthy literature looking at how consumers infuse not just the mundane but also the extraordinary with spiritual meanings to experience the sacred in the profane (e.g., Arnould & Price, 1993). But there is much less work exploring the consumption of spirituality, which is the focus of this special issue. While this topic is beginning to be explored in the marketing literature (e.g. Askegaard & Eckhardt, 2012; Higgins & Hamilton, 2014; Husemann et al., 2016; Kedzior, 2013; Scott & Maclaran, 2013; Turley, 2013), there are still many research questions to be addressed. Pace (2013) and Gould (2006) point out that spiritual consumption can be strategic, to reach higher levels of awareness. How does this take place? Mathras et al. (2016) suggest four main areas to explore the intersection of religion and consumption: beliefs, rituals, values and community, which can help to guide the research agenda as this field develops.

Given the proliferation of spiritual places, practices, retreats, goods, and services, but scant research on why and the way in which they are consumed, this special issue seeks to advance knowledge on how the spiritual is consumed. That is, how consumers engage in consumption of spiritual goods, services, and places to achieve transcendence, either through the extraordinary or through the mundane. Recent research on pilgrimages (Husemann et al., 2016; Moufahim, 2013; Scott & Maclaran, 2013), the Neopaganism movement (Rinallo, Maclaran, & Stevens, 2016), and Sedona’s energy vortexes (Kedzior, 2013) serve as a starting point. This work begins to explore the role of the market and commerce in mediating spirituality and helping consumers to achieve a transformative experience. To further this discussion, we encourage contributions that add knowledge along these lines. Below is an indicative, but not exclusive, list of possible submission topics:

  • The role of the market and commercialization in spiritual consumption
  • The role of material culture in spiritual consumption
  • The role of space and place in spiritual consumption
  • Traditional versus new age approaches to consuming the spiritual
  • The embodied nature of spiritual consumption
  • The role of the extraordinary and escape in spiritual consumption
  • The role of the mundane and the everyday in spiritual consumption
  • Seeking meaning and transcendence in liquid consumption
  • The role of tangible goods versus intangible experiences in spiritual consumption
  • The role of rituals and routines in spiritual consumption
  • Globalization and spiritual consumption
  • Historical perspectives on consuming the spiritual

We encourage scholars to submit their best work to this special issue. We expect this special issue to be well-integrated, cutting edge, and make a major contribution to the rapidly growing field at the intersection of spirituality/religion and consumption/marketing. We welcome qualitative, quantitative and conceptual papers, all of which should make a theoretical contribution, as well as video footage/visual materials accompanying these papers.

Submission Requirements and Due Date:
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–10,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management. These are available at: Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Marketing Management ScholarOne Manuscripts site ( New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site submissions should be made via the Author Centre. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript. One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees. When uploading files authors will then be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Complete paper with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Main document minus author information”.

To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of Consuming the Spiritual in the text field provided.

Informal queries regarding guest editors’ expectations or the suitability of specific research topics should be directed to the Special Issue Editors:

•    Dr Katharina C. Husemann (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK). Email:
•    Prof Giana M. Eckhardt (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK). Email:

The closing date for submissions is 1 March 2018.

Technical queries about submissions can be referred to the Editorial Office:


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Arvidsson, A. (2014). Christianity and consumer culture. Sociologica, 8(3), 0–0.
Askegaard, S., & Eckhardt, G. M. (2012). Glocal yoga: Re-appropriation in the Indian consumptionscape. Marketing Theory, 12(1), 45–60.
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Husemann, K. C., Eckhardt, G. M., Grohs, R., & Saceanu, R. E. (2016). The dynamic interplay between structure, anastructure and antistructure in extraordinary experiences. Journal of Business Research, 69(9), 3361–3370.
Izberk-Bilgin, E. (2012). Infidel brands: Unveiling alternative meanings of global brands at the nexus of globalization, consumer culture and Islamism. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(4), 663–687.
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Pace, S. (2013). Does religion affect the materialism of consumers? An empirical investigation of Buddhist ethics and the resistance of the self. Journal of Business Ethics, 112(1): 25–46.
Redden, G. (2016). Revisiting the spiritual supermarket: does the commodification of spirituality necessarily devalue it? Culture and Religion, 17(2), 231–249.
Rinallo, D., Maclaran, P., & Stevens, L. (2016). A mixed blessing: Market-mediated religious authority in Neopaganism. Journal of Macromarketing, 36(4), 425–442.
Rinallo, D., Scott, L. M., & Maclaran, P. (Eds.). (2013). Consumption and Spirituality. New York: Routledge.
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Scott, L., & Maclaran, P. (2013). Consuming the mists and myths of Avalon: A case study of pilgrimage in Glastonbury. In D. Rinallo, L. Scott, & P. Maclaran (Eds.), Spirituality and consumption (pp. 195–207). New York: Routledge.
Turley, D. (2012). Framing scared places and possessions. Pilgrimage at St Brigid’s Holy Well. In D. Rinallo, L. Scott, & P. Maclaran (Eds.), Spirituality and consumption (pp. 165–177). New York: Routledge.
Veer, E., & Shankar, A. (2011). Forgive me father for I did not give full justification for my sins: How religious consumers justify the acquisition of material wealth. Journal of Marketing Management, 27(5/6), 547–560.

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