Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies

Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies

Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies

Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies

Synopsis

By 2008, total Fair Trade purchases in the developed world reached nearly $3 billion, a five-fold increase in four years. Consumers pay a "fair price" for Fair Trade items, which are meant to generate greater earnings for family farmers, cover the costs of production, and support socially just and environmentally sound practices. Yet constrained by existing markets and the entities that dominate them, Fair Trade often delivers material improvements for producers that are much more modest than the profound social transformations the movement claims to support.

There has been scant real-world assessment of Fair Trade's effectiveness. Drawing upon fine-grained anthropological studies of a variety of regions and commodity systems including Darjeeling tea, coffee, crafts, and cut flowers, the chapters in Fair Trade and Social Justice represent the first works to use ethnographic case studies to assess whether the Fair Trade Movement is actually achieving its goals.

Contributors: Julia Smith, Mark Moberg, Catherine Ziegler , Sarah Besky, Sarah M. Lyon, Catherine S. Dolan, Patrick C. Wilson, Faidra Papavasiliou, Molly Doane, Kathy M'Closkey, Jane Henrici

Excerpt

In recent decades, the growth of global markets for agricultural commodities, manufactured goods, and artisanal products has made available to residents of the developed countries an unprecedented array of consumer goods originating in diverse cultures and geographies. This seemingly endless expansion of consumer choice is rooted in the process of neoliberal globalization, a model of economic development now dominant among the world’s governments, multilateral lending agencies, and trade bodies. Intended to promote global trade through neoliberalism as exercised through institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO), globalization has dismantled most state policies regulating the movement of capital and commodities across national borders (Basch et al. 1994; Greider 1997; Brennan 2003). Implemented through regional trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Single European Market, neoliberal policies have also facilitated massive levels of transnational investment, most of which originates from financial centers in the developed North. Meanwhile, technological and transport innovations of recent decades, particularly jet air cargo and containerized shipping, have brought the fruits of such investment within the reach of consumers in the developed countries (Harvey 1989: 240ff.). The result has been a profusion of once-novel agricultural and manufactured goods on retail shelves, as well as traditionally available items originating in new sites of production: winter fruits and vegetables from Central America, cut flowers from Ecuador and Colombia, and fresh seafood from Asia have become routine items of consumption for North American shoppers (Fischer and Benson 2006; Ziegler 2007). This global sourcing of new products, combined with the ongoing volatility associated with markets . . .

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

Oops!

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.