Cathedrals of Consumerism

The rise of consumerism as the dominant paradigm of social and economic order in modern times has seen society become increasingly focused on purchasing products as a means to create a sense of self and find fulfilment – a form of ‘retail’ therapy. The reliance on chronic consumption to fulfil these deep human needs has seen consumerism likened to a new religion, with shopping malls the places of worship. Sociologist George Ritzer coined the term ‘cathedrals of consumption’ to describe these places of hyper-consumption, designed with the anticipation that people gradually develop a passion for acquiring products they do not necessarily need after experiencing the spectacle, drama and theatre of these spaces. This photographic series examines these themes around the shopping malls of Johannesburg. The structure of the series follows the narrative of the Catholic Mass and explores the imitation of religious themes that reinforce the idea of consumerism as a new religion.