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Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2454; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072454

Rethinking Consumerism from the Perspective of Religion

1
Faculty of Theology/Study of Religions, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, University of Eastern Finland, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 May 2018 / Revised: 8 July 2018 / Accepted: 12 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching and Learning for Sustainability)
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Abstract

Due to the global challenges that are posed by the Anthropocene and the academic focus on the fragmented state of modernity, we extend an invitation for shared dialogue on the all-pervading nature of consumerism as the seemingly problematic ethos of Western consumer culture. To this end, we outline a way to approach consumerism as an implicit religion, theorized as having adopted functionalities related to explicitly faith-based traditions within secular settings. We suggest that a similar kind of holistic and multidimensional approach might be of great benefit in the implementation of sustainability, as this would allow, e.g., (i) a more holistic analysis of the all-pervading nature of consumerism; (ii) acknowledgement of the functional diversity of the phenomenon; (iii) recognition of the shallowness of the critique of consumerism as a way of life; and, (iv) shared dialogue across a spectrum of academic perspectives under a unified model. This approach problematizes standard interpretations of consumerism as being about the promotion of the individual against the collective and as leading to a general sense of purposelessness. The perspective of religion reveals how patterns of consumption become illuminated with meaning and connected to a shared way for individuals to articulate a sense of purpose in contemporary contexts. View Full-Text
Keywords: religion; secular; consumerism; consumer culture; consumption; sustainability education; sustainable development; Anthropocene; implicit religion; social change; digitalization religion; secular; consumerism; consumer culture; consumption; sustainability education; sustainable development; Anthropocene; implicit religion; social change; digitalization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Kurenlahti, M.; Salonen, A.O. Rethinking Consumerism from the Perspective of Religion. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2454.

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