Chicano Lite: Mexican-American Consumer Culture on the Border

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Campbell, H. (2005). Chicano lite: Mexican-american consumer culture on the border. Journal of Consumer Culture, 5(2), 207-233. doi:10.1177/1469540505053089


This article is an ethnography of working-class, Mexican-American consumer patterns on the US-Mexico border. Through a study of locally-owned grocery stores, family parties and fast-food restaurants in El Paso, Texas, I examine the double-edged nature of border consumerism. Minority consumers, such as Mexican-Americans, often modify mainstream consumer products and processes to suit their own needs and values. The resultant consumer styles embody a considerable degree of creativity, contradiction and hybridity, especially for immigrant minorities. I show how, despite their subordinated class and status positions in US society, Mexican-Americans create spaces of resistant cultural meaning within consumer spheres normally treated as generically (Anglo-) American. I conclude that US consumer culture is both a source of self-fulfilment and a means through which Mexican-Americans become further enmeshed in a system of vastly unequal political and economic power.