Selling Dreams: Multilevel Marketing Schemes in Philadelphia's Mexican Immigrant Community




Assistant Professor of Sociology

Project Summary

This project gathered data from the South Philadelphia Latino immigrant population through interviews and fieldwork. The work that I did concerned two different areas: one dealt with the multi-level marketing company, Herbalife, and how it tends to largely attract the Latino immigrant population. This area was mostly fieldwork, in which I went into Herbalife “nutrition clubs” in order to observe and detail the social framework of the sites through ethnographic field notes. The second area dealt with the titled project, in which I mostly transcribed interviews conducted on individuals – the interviews covered their experiences as undocumented immigrants in this country with questions about the police, healthcare, thoughts on the law, etc.

Through this project, I was able to learn and practice many skills which are crucial for doing sociological work, namely writing ethnographic field notes, coding, writing memos, and transcribing interviews. I took great joy in participating in both facets of this project: my ventures into sites taught me the importance of ethnographic work – I got better at data collecting with each time I went and it was reflected through my writing. As I became better with ethnographic work, my understanding and empathizing with the subjects became better too. This made my work more thorough and valuable, both for the concerns of the project, and for myself. Likewise, transcribing interviews, though tedious, offered me the chance to better understand a population which I have deep connections to. It proved to be an emotional and thought-provoking experience which I will carry to heart.

Ultimately, this project gave me my first taste of sociological work and further solidified my interest in the undocumented population. It taught me the many components of sociological work, indeed, of any type of research – most importantly, it taught me how to better interact with a population ethically, so as to promote the prosperity of the community.