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

Mona Moufahim*, Victoria Rodner, Hounaida El Jurdi, Samuelson Appau, Russell Belk, Diego Rinallo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

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?

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.

This paper provides a multivocal genealogy of consumer culture work on religion and spirituality, methodological advice and reading resources for researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
JournalQualitative Market Research: An International Journal
Issue number2
Early online date22 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2023


  • methodology
  • religion
  • spirituality
  • consumer research
  • sacred consumption


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