Urban ethnographies of emerging consumer cultures: the case of Latin America.

Authors: Hodges, C.E.M. and Denegri-Knott, J.

Conference: Anthropology of Markets and Consumption Conference

Dates: 7-9 March 2012


In this paper we explore ways in which research approaches from the field of urban ethnography/anthropology might be used to inform consumer research at the level of ‘the city’. Ethnographically-inspired approaches enable us to explore the rhythms and patterns of everyday lived experiences of consumption in relation to the complexity of the global processes which shape today’s cities. We will focus our discussion on Latin American urban society to explore emergent consumer cultures and ensuing marketing aesthetics within the particular context of the capital cities of Peru and Mexico and how these cultures are influenced by and, in turn, shape the urban cultural life found there. We will focus on the cities of Lima and Mexico City to explore the particular cases of chicha (Peru) and naco (Mexico) as examples of migrant or minority consumer cultures which have transformed the consumption environment there from small and concentrated elite consumer markets to expansive, largely mestizo (mixed race), new middle class markets. Acknowledging the complex cultural, economic, political and social realities that exist in Latin America, we will take Néstor García Canclini’s concept of cultural hybridity (2005) as a framework to apply to explore ‘the city’ as a hybridised marketplace where consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and big business alike are reshaping the accessibility and availability of goods and services and in which relations between economy and culture have shifted to place emphasis on the interrelationships between the traditional and the modern, the elite and the popular.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Janice Denegri-Knott