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 3: The meaning of fair trade

Steven Suranovic

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

Extract

When American politicians discuss international trade on the campaign trail they are likely to use the following popular refrain, ‘I am in favor of free trade as long as it is also fair trade’. Politicians are quick to discuss the unfair trading practices of other countries that put American workers at a disadvantage. US corporations usually join in, perhaps because they are the inspiration behind this refrain. Businesses often complain that the practices of foreign companies and foreign governments steal jobs away from American workers and put US businesses at a disadvantage. Allegations usually involve unfairly low wages, lenient environmental and safety standards, child labor and government policies such as subsidies, all of which give foreign firms an advantage in international markets. The political effectiveness of unfair trade allegations as a rhetorical device is bolstered by several factors. First, virtually everyone supports fairness; no one can reasonably argue that unfair policies are acceptable and so there is never opposition to fairness in principle. Second, fairness is a multifaceted concept that can take on different meanings. This implies that a group of people, all in support of fairness, may actually be supporting different notions of fairness simultaneously. Third, most people instinctively and strongly respond to situations they interpret as unfair. For these reasons, if you can convince someone that something is unfair, then you may also convince them to support actions or policies that will protect against or eliminate the unfairness.

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