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Infidel Brands: Unveiling Alternative Meanings of Global Brands at the Nexus of Globalization, Consumer Culture, and Islamism

Elif Izberk-Bilgin
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 39, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 663-687
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/665413
Stable URL:
Page Count: 25
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Religion and ideology are prominent forces shaping consumption. While consumer researchers have studied both topics considerably, examinations of religious ideology remain scant. Notably lacking is research on how religion, myths, and ideology intertwine in the marketplace, informing attitudes toward brands. This ethnography investigates how the religious ideology of Islamism informs brand meanings among low-income Turkish consumers and identifies three discourses that construct global brands as infidels. Informants use the infidel parable to characterize market societies as devoid of social equality, morality, and justice. Their critique culminates in a consumer jihad against global brands. Through the consumer jihad, informants accommodate and protest the social crises posed by modernity and globalization as they seek to recreate the Golden Age of Islam. Exploring the relationships among economic means, cultural capital, and religious ideology helps this study bridge related domains of research on religiosity, ideology, and brand meanings that are often investigated separately.

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