Exploring the Role of Religion in Consumer Acculturation and Ethnic Identification of the Second-Generation British Pakistanis: An Abstract
During the last five decades, the sociocultural fabric of many western societies has been affected by the continuous waves of immigrants choosing to settle in these countries. The majority of immigrants traverse cultural and national borders in search of a more prosperous life, embarking on an often ambitious journey of acculturating to foreign and alien cultural conditions. The burgeoning of such influential minority ethnic communities is not only of interest to social scientists but is also of significance to business practitioners and researchers, particularly those in the marketing domain. Extant literature on consumer acculturation literature thus far has paid scant attention to the issues, incongruities and conflicts of the second-generation immigrants whose daily realities and consumption lives oscillate between the conflicting often polarized social and cultural demands of the ethnical/parental and majority cultures. Particularly there is increasing interest in understanding the role and impact of religion on the complex dynamics of consumer acculturation and the ethnical identification processes of immigrants.
In recent times, scholars are raising the question whether religion will supersede and replace ethnicity as the most significant marker of identity for the second and higher generations of immigrants. This is especially true with respect to Islam that is considered as the world’s fastest growing religion and not just in Muslim majority nations. Researchers aver that in this contemporary era of globalization, which has created tremendous social, cultural and economic change, there is a need to reconsider our existing assumptions on how religion and ethnicity interact in complex ways to materialize in everyday life through consumption. Individualized Muslim identities which are deemed as anomalies in a world still grappling with coming to terms with modernity and which remain at best anecdotes in glitzy newspapers need to be explored. By conducting phenomenological interviews of the different generations of Pakistani Muslim ethnic community in the UK, which is one of the biggest Muslim Diaspora in Europe, this study interrogates the relationship between religion and identity projects and explores how consumption is implicated in constructing, maintaining and communicating Muslim identities as they circumnavigate the nexus of globalization, markets and religion.