Academic journal article Cultural Analysis

Digitizing Cultural Economies: 'Personalization' and U.S. Quinceanera Practice Online

Academic journal article Cultural Analysis

Digitizing Cultural Economies: 'Personalization' and U.S. Quinceanera Practice Online

Article excerpt


This article discusses the coming-of-age event known as a quinceanera as symbolic-product marketed by cultural entrepreneurs. The author identifies online resources that affect the real-world practices of the event celebrated amongst U.S.-Latino communities. Drawing on the effects of integrating culturally mediated digital sources among members of contemporary youth generations, the author shows a decline in an emphasis on group identification of ethnicity and race and an increased valuation of generational affiliations in the age-based traditional practice. The author emphasizes the role of consumer-led participation in rearticulating the function of the quinceanera celebration in twenty-first-century U.S.-Latino communities.

From their iced mochas to their tech gadgets and social media profiles,
a new generation of Quince girls is simply doing what it knows best:
personalizing everything that enters their lives, and a Quinceanera is
no exception.
--Hilda Gabriela Hernandez, Founder,

Digital Culture Influencers

The hot new accessory for the 2015 quinceanera season is honey. Hilda Gabriela Hernandez, stylist and self-described "Quinceanera-Guru," is the media maven behind the quinceanera-themed professional blog, ", (MQ). This site caters specifically caters to Latina Millennial consumers eager to create the perfect "modern" quinceanera utilizing their generation's facility with digital technology and attraction to niche media branding. On June 22, 2015, Hernandez shares her advice for creating a natural-themed quinceanera as she simultaneously promotes her new role as spokeswoman for the National Honey Board's "Sweet Quinceanera" 2015 advertising campaign. From do-it-yourself natural facials to honey-based party favors, Hernandez urges her readers to make their events "flawlessly sweet" by patronizing the National Honey Board's website for further creative inspiration (Hernandez 2015, "Sweet"). The web presence of her quinceanera-specific party planning resource makes manifest the entangled relations between Latino traditions, American (1) consumer culture, and digital media.

The above example illustrates emergent patterns of digital cultural practice of middle-income American Latino populations, specifically the intersection of recognizable cultural forms and consumer culture. Ninety-five percent of U.S.-Latinos with a family income of at least $50,000 use the Internet, and interpret active digital engagement as vital for social and cultural integration in the U.S. (Pew 2013, "Closing the Digital Divide"). This segmentation of Latino communities by income complicates the practice of quinceanera celebrations by acknowledging distinctions in economic mobility as one factor affecting the character of material performance in the United States. The context of online digital performance implicates the potential for such material manifestations to emerge across the country rather than being subject to specific limitations of regional or local marketplaces. The quinceanera as practice of consumption is thus connected to a larger national Hispanic marketplace.

The post, "A Sweet Quinceanera with the Honey Board and Me," is just one of many on the MQ site that recognizes the economic potential of Latino consumers and, in particular, the efficacy of accessing ethnic consumers through tactics that monetize folkloric practices. (2) It is at the intersection of cultural practice and consumer intervention that I situate this work, focusing on how digital planning services function as new sources of cultural knowledge that impact the shared narrative of quinceanera culture among middle income Latino communities. I will illustrate how the consumer character of online quinceanera promotion fostered in a context of American neoliberal social politics creates a space from which quinceaneras are narrated as "personal" practices, and are implicitly distanced from connections to familiar communalist ideologies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.