Cross-border shopping: Family narratives uri icon


  • Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework on the experience of cross-border shopping. This experience is constructed on narratives, rituals, and intergenerational transfers that move beyond the simple description of experienced events to provide explanatory frameworks of family identity construction. Design/methodology/approach: Nine in-depth interviews are conducted with three generations of North Mexican women from three families who shop frequently across the border. Findings: The findings highlight different processes associated with the experience of cross-border shopping. First, each family works throughout the years to construct its own identity using the tales of their shared experiences. Second, an intergenerational transfer of knowledge going from grandmothers to mothers to granddaughters in each family occurs as result of the experiences lived together. Third, common knowledge is developed both by Mexican consumers and North American retailers that translates into particular commercial practices. Finally, all our contributors are immersed in a national culture, the North Mexican, sharing and transmitting values like thriftiness, malinchismo, and the relevance of family ties. These values affect their shopping patterns, generating important consequences for both the Mexican and North American economies. Originality/value: The authors' intent is to contribute to the understanding of the process of family identity construction through consumption. This consumption occurs in a particular context; cross-border shopping. The experience is singular in the sense that families spend considerable amount of time together while traveling and establishing their shopping routines. This work depicts the shopping rituals passed down from generation-to-generation and the derived construction of meaning within the family. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Publication date

  • January 1, 2010