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Can you buy salvation?

Can you buy salvation?

Ryan Schram

Mills 169 (A26)


4 May 2016

Available at http://anthro.rschram.org/2667/9


Jones, Carla. 2010. “Materializing Piety: Gendered Anxieties about Faithful Consumption in Contemporary Urban Indonesia.” American Ethnologist 37 (4): 617–37. doi:10.1111/j.1548-1425.2010.01275.x.

Brenner, Suzanne. 1996. “Reconstructing Self and Society: Javanese Muslim Women and ‘the Veil.’” American Ethnologist 23 (4): 673–97. doi:10.1525/ae.1996.23.4.02a00010.

Meyer, Birgit. 1998. “Commodities and the Power of Prayer: Pentecostalist Attitudes Towards Consumption in Contemporary Ghana.” Development and Change 29 (4): 751–76. doi:10.1111/1467-7660.00098.

Other media

“Kosher Dining.” 2016. Cornell Center for Jewish Living, Cornell University. Accessed May 3. http://cornellcjl.com/kosher-dining/.

Medina, Jennifer. 2016. “A Few Miles From San Bernardino, a Muslim Prom Queen Reigns.” The New York Times, April 29. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/30/us/a-few-miles-from-san-bernardino-a-muslim-prom-queen-reigns.html.

What is (in) fashion?

  • How would you describe fashion among students at this university?
  • What do these trends or styles tell you about the people who wear them?

Are your friends fashion followers?

  • How many of you think that your friends follow what is in fashion?
  • How many of you think that your friends do not follow what is in fashion?

Dress as communication and dress as consumption

A theory of clothing:

  • Let's assume that everyone has a choice of what to wear.
  • Let's also assume that people make judgements about what other people wear.
  • Dress is a social action - it sends a message, even if that message is not intended.
  • The message of dress is also implicitly a message about the person.

Weber and hipsters

  • Weber's theory of social action is relevant here: To understand social action, we must look at the meaning the actors puts in their action.
  • There are many levels of meaning in any one action: emotional (affective), (instrumentally) rational, and symbolic.
  • There is also another level of meaning, in which the action expresses a value.

Remember ANTH 1002

  • Think back to Terry Woronov's lecture in ANTH 1002 about baby food and niche marketing. What was her main point?

Social identity and mass consumption

A simplified theory of identity in mass societies:

  • Communication involves using codes. We express ourselves by encoding our thoughts in terms of symbols.
  • Living in a mass society means being a consumer of codes.
  • The choices presented by the mass market are linked to discrete, bounded categories of identity.

Religious identity in a mass society

  • If religion is a kind of social action, how does one practice one's religion in a mass society?
  • How does one express a religious identity as one's social identity in a mass society?

Religion and economy

  • Religious prohibitions on consumption
  • Religious critiques of wealth
  • Blessing of commodity consumption
  • Aimee Semple Macpherson and televangelism
  • Fundraising in Auhelawa churches

A guide to the unit

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