Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett

Fair trade critiques the historical inequalities inherent in international trade and seeks to promote social justice by creating alternative networks linking marginalized producers (typically in the global South) with progressive consumers (typically in the global North). The first of its kind, this volume brings together 43 of the foremost fair trade scholars from around the world and across the social sciences. The Handbook serves as both a comprehensive overview and in-depth guide to dominant perspectives and concerns. Chapters analyze the rapidly growing fair trade movement and market, exploring diverse initiatives and organizations, production and consumption regions, and food and cultural products. Written for those new to fair trade as well as those well versed in this domain, the Handbook is an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners interested in global regulation, multi-stakeholder initiatives, social and environmental certification, ethical labeling, consumer activism, and international development.

Chapter 1: Introduction to research on fair trade

Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, development economics, international economics, political economy, environment, agricultural economics, politics and public policy, human rights, political economy, regulation and governance


‘Fair trade’ has emerged over recent decades as a buzzword used by social scientists, socially conscious businesses, international development practitioners, social movement activists and ethically minded consumers. As a concept, fair trade refers to a critique of the historical inequalities inherent in international trade and to a belief that trade can be made more socially just. This notion is increasingly linked to a set of concrete initiatives that challenge global inequalities and create more egalitarian commodity networks, linking marginalized producers in the global South with progressive consumers in the global North. In moving from abstract concept to grounded practice, fair trade works to transform international trade from a vehicle of exploitation to an avenue of empowerment. In the global South, fair trade seeks to enhance wellbeing – by fostering higher prices and wages, stable markets and employment, better work conditions and environmental sustainability – and to bolster individual and collective capacities – by strengthening information exchanges, social service access, opportunities for self-determination and local organizations. In the global North, fair trade seeks to bolster more equitable trade policies, business models and consumption practices by making available a range of goods that are produced under more socially just and environmentally sustainable conditions. There is now an impressive body of research on fair trade generated by scholars from across the social sciences – sociology, political science, geography, economics and anthropology – as well as business, marketing, policy, international development and other related fields.