IJAPS Series for South Asia
Taking India to Market
Retail Revolution and Consumer Culture
In the wake of India’s 1991 economic reforms, trade barriers were lowered and state regulation policies with regard to industrial production and foreign direct investment were significantly liberalized. India transitioned from a state-centric to a market-oriented model of development. Subsequent reforms have spurred a retail revolution, and novel forms of consumer culture have emerged against a background of economic growth. In this connection, contributions that study how and why landscapes of production, trade, regulation and consumption have transformed in contemporary India are encouraged. Tentatively it shall be argued that in spite of the magnitude of India’s retail revolution and rapidly changing forms of consumer culture, these transformations and their effects are not yet well understood in empirical terms. That is to say, studies are particularly welcome that can fill the gap in terms of ‘thick’ descriptions of how everyday political economy frames and conditions the production, trade, regulation and consumption of a wide variety of commodities and services. Additionally, papers that explore the rise of Hindu nationalism with respect to its role in the retail revolution are invited.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi has been in power since 2014, and reflects a broader and deeper fascination with Hindu religious doctrine – for example the idealization of Hindu vegetarianism that is not systematically matched by everyday practice. Hinduism has always been integral to social life among divergent class and caste groups in India, but the retail revolution, consumer culture and the emergence of a new Hindu middle class of about 300 million consumers have increasingly become inseparable from moral markets and consumption – that is, a new configuration of capitalism that makes recurrent reference to Hindu doctrine, aesthetics and practice. As a consequence, the notions of moral markets and consumption have led to a ‘brand’ of divine markets in India in which mass-produced commodities are spiritualized, and spirituality is subjected to a logic of commodification. Conversely, ‘ordinary Hindus’ who are not involved in contemporary religious or political developments, and who are somewhat ambivalent about these, either reluctantly accept these trends or simply reject them as no more than a form of materialism (or material excess) and thus as a shallow display of religiosity.
Finally, research findings that detail how other communities are affected by, and respond to, the above-mentioned transformations – Muslim entrepreneurs or tribal trade networks, for example, are most welcome. Moreover, interest is exhibited in what could be called new business communities, in terms of class, caste, ethnicity and gender, that have entered the Indian economy, and in the ways in which these communities manoeuvre within and beyond India. In sum, original works from within the broader field of social sciences that shed light on India’s rapid transition from bazaars to hypermarkets in the following fields: things/commodities, services and landscapes. Often, these transitions are explored in major urban centres, but studies that explore the retail revolution and consumer culture at the margins too are equally relevant. Potential topics that tie-in the aforesaid theme inter alia: places of worship and monuments; landscapes of retail and consumption: bazaars, supermarkets and hypermarkets; advertisement; regulation; finance; body cultures; physical and social mobility; food cultures and animals: health, nutrition and taste; everyday political economy; visual culture.
In this connection the International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies (IJAPS) would like to extend an invitation to scholars from diverse disciplines to contribute a paper in their area of specialisation to this Series.
Contributed manuscript should keep within the word count of between 8,000 and 10,000, inclusive of notes, references, appendices, illustrations, etc. Submitted manuscript should comprise an Abstract (max. 200 words) and Keywords (max. 5 words), and Text that has been prepared according to the prescribed journal house-style.
Aforesaid Invitation notwithstanding all submitted manuscripts will undergo the normal double-blind peer review process.
In a themed issue (consisting a set of between 5 and 7 thematic papers), a Guest Editor (GE) will be identified and appointed by IJAPS. Potential GEs are to provide his/her curriculum vitae for perusal and approval by IJAPS Editor-in-Chief, together with biodata of identified contributors indicating ability/authority as author for their respective papers.
IJAPS Editorial Board represented by the Editor-in-Chief or an appointed representative (a member of the IJAPS Editorial Board) will work closely with the GE in the matter of the selection of reviewers, attending to the reviewers’ report (comments, recommendations, etc.), and take the decision for final approval. Once approved, GE will attend to the details of proofreading (1st reading) and to ensure the papers are formatted to IJAPS house-style. Two GEs are also possible. (Note: The candidate for GE needs to be a scholar of international standing in his/her field for it will lend immense credibility to the published papers and for IJAPS.)
All articles to be submitted by the GE for publication must have gone through peer review process which is coordinated by the GE. The GE is to keep record of the review report and submit them to the journal for record purpose.
The GE is to ensure that the selected contributors or a majority of contributors do not come from one single institution. Preferably, and if possible, contributors to come from various disciplines, a gender balance, institutions/universities, and countries/continents are much appreciated to reflect the diversity of scholarship.
Interested Authors need to submit a draft Abstract (max. 200 words) and Keywords (max. 5 words). Only Authors of approved Abstracts should proceed with the manuscript.
Submitted manuscript should be forwarded in electronic format (Microsoft Word) within a window of 6 and 8 months following approval of Abstract. All submitted manuscripts shall go through a double blind peer review that might involve 2 or 3 reviewers, revisions, re-evaluation, etc., a lengthy process.
Currently, we are accepting abstracts.
For queries, please contact:
Associate Professor Johan Fischer (johanf[at]ruc.dk)
Department of Social Sciences and Business
Roskilde University, Denmark