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Title: Consuming Lourdes : an ethnographic investigation into the consumption of religious pilgrimage, with specific focus upon the Catholic sanctuary of Lourdes, France
Author: Higgins, Leighanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 4292
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates the consumption of religious pilgrimage, with a specific focus upon the Catholic Sanctuary of Lourdes, France. In researching pilgrimage, consumer research to date has taken a commercial (O'Guinn and Belk, 1989), secular (Arnould and Price, 1993; Kozinets, 2002) or new age (Scott and Maclaren, 2013; Kedzior, 2013) perspective. However, this thesis follows Turley (2013) and Moufahim (2013) in investigating specifically consumption and religious pilgrimage. The three-year interpretive ethnographic study, adopted a historical hermeneutic philosophy (Gadamer, 1977/2008), compiling eight weeks fieldwork at the Sanctuary of Lourdes. Onsite data collated 200 field-notes pages, approximately 3000 videos and photographs, and many informal and serendipitous interviews with pilgrims on site at Lourdes. Additionally, twenty-one semi-structured depth interviews were conducted with twenty-three informants, tallying over 1000 pages of transcription. Contributions towards Consumer Culture Theory (CCT) (Arnould and Thompson, 2005) within the areas of family, extraordinary experiential consumption, self, and sacred consumption are provided. One such contribution is consumer research to date finds experience aligned with hedonism, joy and fun (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982; Goulding et al, 2009), however this study uncovered the experiencing and expression of upset, pain, anguish, hurt and vulnerability to be central, with time and space for expression of vulnerability highly sought after by consumers, thus extending consumer research understanding on emotion, experience and vulnerability. However, such emotional intensity was found at times to be overpowering. Consequently consumers journey to the secular shops and marketplace as a means of gaining "light hearted relief" from such intensity. The back and forth between sacred sanctuary and secular shop creates for the consumer the "whole package" of the Lourdes pilgrimage experience - enabling a place where Catholic consumers can temporarily gain a "coherent sense of self" (Ahuvia, 2005) and harmoniously negotiate the contradictions between religious faith and consumer culture (Beruschavili and Arnould, 2005).
Supervisor: Hewer, Paul ; Hamilton, Kathy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral