Beyond the middle classes, beyond new media: The politics of Islamic consumerism in Indonesia

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This introduction considers two developments that have hitherto occupied separate realms of scholarship: the increasing visibility of pious consumption, and the proliferation in Indonesia of Muslim authorities and the associated fragmentation of Muslim publics. We identify three significant themes that connect these developments. First, the borders that separate religion and consumerism have become increasingly porous. Indonesian Muslims’ uptake of new technologies and non-religious cultural forms has broadened the range of possibilities for practice and faith, which in turn has facilitated the emergence of new figures of Islamic authority. Second, online platforms for Islamic experience and participation have intensified religious identity politics. Visibility is needed for success in the world of social media, and claimants to authority in online spaces frequently exploit differences in religious and intra-religious segments to achieve this. Third, the concept of the ‘middle class’ has been useful for understanding the adoption of new technologies and media forms by Muslims, yet we suggest that Islamic consumerism should be decoupled from the concept of the Muslim middle class. We conclude by suggesting that the debate about consumerism would be enhanced by a renewed focus on materiality and its social meanings in Islamic practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Aksi Bela Islam (Action in Defence of Islam)
  • algorithmic enclaves
  • consumerism
  • Indonesia
  • materiality
  • Middle class
  • pious consumption

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