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 8: Connections in fair trade food networks

Michael K. Goodman and Agatha Herman

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


Close to two decades ago, Whatmore and Thorne (1997) used fair trade coffee to introduce actor-network theory to the political economy of food and what Evans (2000) called the rise of ‘counter-hegemonic globalization’. As well as providing one of the earliest academic descriptions of a fair trade network, they elaborated a ‘topological spatial imagination concerned with tracing points of connection and lines of flow, as opposed to reiterating fixed surfaces and boundaries’ (Whatmore and Thorne 1997, 289; original emphasis). Yet, how do these connections and flows work? And, importantly, how do they do this work as fair trade has moved into the ‘everyday’ supply chains of supermarkets, corner stores and institutions? In this chapter, we analyze the shifting temporal and spatial practices that have given shape to and animate these alternative connections and flows in fair trade’s agro-food networks. The connective practices of fair trade have substantively changed as traditional fair trade products have moved into the commercial mainstream, and new fair trade products, such as wine, have entered the market. Crucially, these connective practices are tactical in nature: they have shifted to grow fair trade markets and bring in new goods, but they also facilitate the practical connections across fair trade commodity chain nodes designed to facilitate the flow of these goods from marginalized producers to better-off consumers.

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