Consumption choices assist in solving the problem of how to convey and recognize religious identities. In the communication of an identity, individuals use the knowledge embedded in consumption norms, which restrict the range of choices to a smaller set and abbreviate the required knowledge for encoding and decoding messages. Using this knowledge as a shared framework for understanding, individuals with religious beliefs can choose consumption items that would not only strengthen their beliefs but also help them express the intensity of their commitments to these beliefs. Because individuals and societies have different beliefs, norms, commitments, and expressive needs, consumption choice can help to express these differences. Our explanation contrasts with incentive-based approaches that view religious consumption norms as solutions to free-rider problem inherent in clubs.
Minkler, Lanse and Cosgel, Metin M., "Religious Identity and Consumption" (2004). Economics Working Papers. 200403.