Money, sacrificial work, and poor consumers

Rohit Varman*, Hari Sreekumar, Russell W. Belk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This is an ethnography among poor migrants from Kerala, India to the Middle East. This study offers insights into how the poor accumulate sacrificial money through sufferings and self-abnegation, and earmark it for consumption in Kerala. The hardships endured to earn the sacrificial money transform it into a sacred object. The phenomena of accumulation, earmarking, and meaning making of sacrificial money by the poor can be understood through the concept of sacrificial work. Sacrificial work is a spatially demarcated circuit of accumulation of money through hardships and its conflict-ridden transfer to family, community, and self for consumption. In sacrificial work, the poor erect a boundary around this money, and earmark it as caring, communal, and transformative. By delineating the various aspects of sacrificial work, this study brings to the center a behavior that has, in spite of its ubiquity, been relegated to the margins of consumer research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657–677
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number4
Early online date4 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • money
  • poor
  • sacrifice
  • earmarking
  • care
  • community
  • immigrants


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