Ibarra-Cantu, Cecilia (2021) The Role of Skills, Knowledge, and Competencies in the Consumer Adaptation Process of Immigrants to Multicultural Marketplaces: an Analysis of the Food Consumption Practices of Mexican Immigrants to the UK. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis analyses the role that skills, knowledge, and competencies play in the process of consumer multiculturation of immigrant consumers. Adopting Demangeot et al.’s (2015) multifaceted conceptualisation of multicultural marketplaces and focusing on the food consumption practices of Mexican immigrant consumers to the UK, the thesis seeks to extend the scope of consumer multiculturation beyond identity construction. This research adopts a qualitative methodology involving in-depth interviews and participant observation with twenty Mexican immigrants residing in the UK, supplementing this with an analysis of posts on social media sites uploaded by members of the Mexican diaspora in the UK. The study is framed by adopting practice theory as a conceptual lens, and the data is analysed using a thematic approach.

A practice theory lens allows the researcher to study practices, comprising competencies, materials, and meanings (Shove et al., 2012) as opposed to individual consumers as the unit of analysis, analysing the dynamic interactions of these three elements in the context of the immigrants’ food consumption practices, thus examining culture in action.

The study contributes to the theory of consumer multiculturation in a number of ways. First it adds to previous studies that focus only on consumption by identifying that immigrant consumers engage in a creative form of ‘prosumption’ (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010), akin to ‘craft consumption’ (Campbell, 2005) as they create and innovate while adapting to the many cultural forces comprising multicultural marketplaces. Second, it broadens the focus from the individual consumer by acknowledging that immigrant consumers create social networks, through which they engage in sharing knowledge, skills, and competencies related to food, thus increasing the complex global forces operating within multicultural marketplaces. Third, it deepens our understanding of cultural authenticity by highlighting the performative role of immigrant consumers in the food authentication process.

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