Understanding Glastonbury as a site of consumption

Bowman, Marion (2011). Understanding Glastonbury as a site of consumption. In: Lynch, Gordon; Mitchell, Jolyon and Strhan, Anna eds. Religion, Media and Culture: A Reader. Abingdon, New York: Routledge, pp. 11–22.

URL: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/97804155495...

Abstract

Commodification is one aspect of contemporary spirituality which frequently attracts critical attention and negative comment. “Spiritually shopping around” and the business of “selling spirituality” are often portrayed popularly as proofs of the essential superficiality, gullibility and narcissism of the clients and the cynically capitalist, exploitative tendencies of the providers of such goods and services. Academic critiques of such phenomena display a range of attitudes and analyses, from a hermeneutic of suspicion to more sympathetic accounts.

In this chapter, some of the prevailing perceptions of commodification and marketization in the contemporary spiritual milieu, and phenomena related to them, are explored in the context of Glastonbury. Drawing upon both fieldwork data and the results of a small scale pilot survey on Glastonbury’s spiritual economy conducted in 2007, Glastonbury is examined as an example of a specialized site of religious and spiritual consumption where (in common with other pilgrimage sites) commercial transactions can have sacralized meanings and value.

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