Fast Food in the Colonia: A Self Organizing Network in Oaxaca, Mexico
Convenience foods play an increasingly important role in middle class lifestyles in the United States and around the world. Mexico is not an exception. McDonalds, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken are only a few of the fast food establishments that pepper the urban and suburban communities across Mexico. In addition to fast food, Mexican supermarkets, like supermarkets around the world, feature food that is ready to “heat and eat” to purchase and take home. These kinds of convenience products are just as appealing to Mexican families living at lower economic statuses, with incomes that do not allow them to indulge in “fast” and convenience foods from markets and restaurants. Informal neighborhood networks take the place of commercial convenience food outlets in many Mexican neighborhoods. This paper presents a model of an informal economic network operating in a colonia (neighborhood) on the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juarez, the capital city of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. This network provides ready to eat alternatives to meal preparation, as well as other kinds of services and products in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of offerings. The emergent and self-organizing properties of this network are analyzed using principles derived from Wheatley’s work in organizational theory.
Keywords: Networks, Self Organizing Groups, Mexico, Oaxaca, Convenience Foods, Ethnography
Dr. Kimberly Porter Martin
Professor of Anthropology, Sociology and Anthropology Department, University of La Verne