Researching the sacred: a conversation with Samuelson Appau, Russ Belk and Diego Rinallo



Moufahim M, Rodner V, El Jurdi H, Appau S, Belk R & Rinallo D (2023) Researching the sacred: a conversation with Samuelson Appau, Russ Belk and Diego Rinallo. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 26 (2).

Abstract Purpose Once the domain of theologians, sociologists and (religion) anthropologists, we have seen more recently how consumer researchers have enriched the study of spirituality and religion. Researching the sacred can be fraught with challenges, in and out of the field. Russell Belk, Samuelson Appau and Diego Rinallo address key questions, issues and conceptualisations in the scholarship on sacred consumption, contemplating the past and mapping future research avenues. A reading list is also included for those interested in joining the authors in this collective discovery of the sacred. Design/methodology/approach Contributors answered the following four questions: How has the study of sacred consumption evolved since you started researching the field? What would be the critical methodological issues that researchers need to consider when approaching the “sacred”? What are some of the key authors that have influenced your thinking? What do you think will be the key questions that researchers will need to focus on? Findings Rinallo, Belk and Appau’s reflections on studying the sacred provide food for thought for both novice and weathered researchers alike. Researching the sacred both shapes and is shaped by our positionality: by our insider/outsider status, our gender and race and our cosmovisions as believers or sceptics. Researchers should be mindful and reflective of their subject positionings as they approach, enter and leave the field. Researching the sacred requires an open mind as we broaden our vision of what constitutes the sacred. Such research calls for scholarly as well as phenomenological curiosity. Reading widely and across disciplines to better familiarise ourselves with our sacred context helps to craft novel and meaningful research. Originality/value This paper provides a multivocal genealogy of consumer culture work on religion and spirituality, methodological advice and reading resources for researchers.

Methodology; Religion; Spirituality; Consumer research; Sacred consumption

Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal: Volume 26, Issue 2

Publication date06/04/2023
Publication date online22/03/2023
Date accepted by journal15/02/2023

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Dr Mona Moufahim

Dr Mona Moufahim

Senior Lecturer, Marketing & Retail