Religious Commodification in Pakistan: A Case Study of Bari Imam, Islamabad
Author: Asif Javed

Creating desires through advertisements and other market campaigns is a strategy of market economy which has multiple effects on society. One of the sociocultural impacts of it is creating and managing identity through consumption. In a consumerist society many sociological processes work as mediator between different components of culture. For instance, religion and market are two entirely different components of culture and a mediating process enables two ontologically different components to interact with each other. This study aims to highlight one very important sociological process which becomes inevitable because of interaction between religion and market economy. This often neglected and invisible process gradually penetrates the sacred canopy and becomes part and parcel of the practicing religion. This process is known as religious commodification and it can be investigated into various dimensions such as the lifecycle of the process, authenticity of the religion due to this process and socioeconomic impact of such process. In this study, I intend to focus on the process of religious commodification through mass production of religious objects. These objects can be categorized into various types such as sacred historical goods, commodities with both use and exchange values, manufactured commodities and fetishized products. The study was conducted in the market situated in the outskirts of shrine of Bari Imam, Islamabad. By using thematic analysis of primary data and semiotic analysis of religious poster, this descriptive case study shows how religious commodification is taking place in the shrine of Bari Imam. The thematic analysis shows how and why buyer demand the religious commodities and how capitalist mode of production capitalises buyer’s cultural capital by supplying religious commodities through mass production. The semiotic analysis has helped in furthering the understanding of how and what meanings are infused in the posters of saints and shrines, and how these tend to commodify the religion. The study is significant as it indigenizes of Bourdieu’s views on the Bari Imam Shrine complex. Supervisor:- Dr. Zulfiqar Ali

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Keywords : Bari Imam, Consumerism, Religious Commodification, Sacred Commodities
Supervisor: Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

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