Marketing professor Ayalla Ruvio looks at links between holiday shopping and religion.
Marketing professor Ayalla Ruvio of Fox School of Business conducted a study with two of her colleagues, Elizabeth Hirschman and Mourad Touzani, to look at the relationship between religion and holiday shopping. The study found that dominant religions in some places could encourage holiday shopping and spending, but the results also argued that shopping malls play a different role for minority religions.
Ruvio said the original idea about culture, holidays and consumption belonged to Hirschman, a marketing professor at Rutgers University.
“We met in Constance and I joined my co-authors after I suggested that we will explore their original idea in three different cultures and in three different religions, and have a research design of majority, minorities and disasphordic in each country and for each religion,” Ruvio said.
“We did interviews in Israel with Jewish, Christian and Muslim people and also interviewed people in Indonesia and the states,” Ruvio added. “People talked about holidays and [their] habits.”
Ruvio said that the study shows how shopping rituals have replaced past religious rituals.
“We have all kinds of implications, but shopping or any shopping rituals serve as what religion served as in the past,” Ruvio said. “Holiday rituals have been replaced by shopping rituals and holidays serve as more of a social purpose than religious.”
The idea of religion supporting consumerism often draws criticism.
“I have pretty mixed feelings as a Jewish woman, but when you are liberated from religion, you enjoy the holidays, but it may be my bias because I’m not a religious person,” Ruvio said.
Ruvio cited an experience in Israel that supports her idea of liberation from religion and more social interactions resulting in more enjoyment.
“When my family and I were in Israel, I didn’t enjoy synagogue because they would separate the boys and the girls,” Ruvio said. “But I found at the synagogues in the states, by allowing us to sit together, it made it more enjoyable because it was more sociable.”
While the study does bring attention to the fact that shopping has replaced religion in much of today’s culture and society, Ruvio said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is a bad thing. She said that rituals change with time and today’s holiday rituals are appropriate for today’s society.
“I mean, today you won’t slaughter sheep for the holidays,” Ruvio said.
Alexsia Brown can be reached at email@example.com.