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Fair Trade Coffee

Fair Trade Coffee: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Driven Social Justice

  • Book Info
    Fair Trade Coffee
    Book Description:

    Timely, meticulously researched, and engagingly written, this study challenges many commonly held assumptions about the long-term prospects and pitfalls of the fair trade network's market-driven strategy in the era of globalization.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8433-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction: Fair Trade and Global Capitalism
    (pp. 3-21)

    This excerpt from a song by well-known Canadian artist Leonard Cohen says much about the competitiveness, inequality, and injustice pervasive in modern life. While Cohen touches on many issues, one key underlying theme is how goods are produced and consumed by society. These activities have been central to the social, political, economic, and cultural organization of disparate societies throughout history. This includes societies of the present day where production and consumption are driven by the capitalist imperatives of competition and profit maximization. The overall result of these imperatives, as depicted by Cohen, is a world of alienation, injustice, and exploitation....

  7. 1 Historical and Theoretical Origins of the Fair Trade Network
    (pp. 22-51)

    The increasing popularity of fair trade over the past decade has given rise to a small but growing body of literature on the subject produced by fair traders, fair trade analysts, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While approaching the topic from a variety of perspectives, few of these works have attempted to provide a thorough historical assessment of the fair trade network. Most analysts have focused on the network since the emergence of fair trade labelling in 1988 and have given only brief mention to its historical development in earlier decades.³ From this starting point, authors have generally depicted the fair...

  8. 2 Neoliberal Globalization and the Fair Trade Network
    (pp. 52-100)

    When discussing the fair trade network and neoliberal globalization, fair traders and fair trade analysts tend to offer varying perspectives which are at times ambiguous or contradictory. In some instances, fair traders describe the network as a sort of third way project focused on ‘sustainability’ that is neither state-driven nor neoliberal, and purportedly neither capitalist nor socialist. At other instances, fair traders (frequently the same ones) draw attention to the compatibility between fair trade and ‘free trade’ and the overall ideals of neoliberal institutions like the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) (Bolscher, interview 2002; VanderHoff Boersma, interview...

  9. 3 Coffee and the Capitalist Market
    (pp. 101-134)

    As the previous chapters demonstrate, the historical evolution of the fair trade network has been greatly influenced by fair traders’ understanding of the capitalist world system, which has been derived from neo-Smithian political economy. The vast majority of fair traders and fair trade analysts have tended to ignore the specific structural imperatives that drive exploitation in a capitalist system. From their perspective, whether or not exploitation occurs through the market is largely dependent on the unethical or excessivelycapitalist attitudeof ‘greedy’ or ‘unscrupulous’ market agents (Ransom 2001: 4–26; FLO 2001: 2; Sick 1999: 91–2). Yet, the structural...

  10. 4 Coffee and the ‘Double Movement’
    (pp. 135-172)

    The uncertainty, social unrest, and exploitation pervasive in the coffee industry described in the previous chapter has historically led to varied ‘double movements,’ as social groups have mobilized and pressured for certain forms of protection from the market’s gravest effects (Talbot 2004: 26–7). The concept of the double movement was developed by economic historian and anthropologist Karl Polanyi (1944), who asserted that the emergence and extension of industrial capitalism and the ‘self-regulating market’ have historically been accompanied by a simultaneous – or double – movement that has imposed significant market regulation as a political solution to its destructive impact....

  11. 5 Fair Trade in Mexico: The Case of UCIRI
    (pp. 173-224)

    The previous chapters have analysed the broader historical and political-economic context in which fair trade and fair trade coffee emerged. The following two chapters move the level of analysis from the global to the national and local, and explore how specific fair trade groups in Mexico and Canada have survived and evolved within the broader context. In particular, they assess the extent to which fair trade groups have been able to meet the democratic, egalitarian, and social justice goals of fair trade through their mediated involvement in the international capitalist market within the context of neoliberal reforms. This chapter focuses...

  12. 6 Fair Trade Coffee in Canada
    (pp. 225-275)

    As is the case in all market exchanges under capitalism, fair trade producers are entirely dependent on the voluntary purchasing decisions of consumers to provide a market for their goods and through it the income required to survive. Moreover, within the fair trade network the relations between producer and consumer mirror those of the conventional international trade in commodities: fair trade producers are located in poorer, Southern nations while the vast majority of their consumers are located in rich, Northern nations for a variety of historical reasons, described in chapter 3. This means that in the final analysis the fair...

  13. 7 Conclusion: Fair Trade as Moral Economy
    (pp. 276-292)

    The above quotations from Amartya Sen and Colin Leys reveal significant differences in the long-term vision of development advanced by the capability expansion and historical materialist approaches. To Sen, the inventor of the capability expansion approach and the current honorary president of Oxfam International, development does not require a fundamental transformation of global capitalism. Rather, what is required is various state and non-state initiatives to distribute more fairly the ‘great rewards’ of the global market to poor workers and farmers. To Leys, a leading proponent of Marxist development theory, the prospect of Sen’s vision happening, while welcome, does not appear...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 293-306)
  15. References
    (pp. 307-332)
  16. Index
    (pp. 333-348)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 349-350)