Changing Big Business

Changing Big Business

The Globalisation of the Fair Trade Movement

Anna Hutchens

Drawing on candid accounts from practitioners, producers and industry representatives, this informative and proactive volume investigates the challenges facing today’s fair trade movement and provides unique insights into the workings of social and economic power in world markets.

Chapter 4: Networking Networks for Scale

Anna Hutchens

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, development studies, development studies, economics and finance, international economics


In the overview of power theories offered in Chapter 1, ‘power over’ was identified as the traditional way of scaling up, such as by building a geopolitical empire through conquest or a business empire through takeovers. The example of the global coffee market in Chapter 2 provided a vivid example of the exercise of modern ‘power over’. Yet in this context, the fair trade movement has also risen to challenge corporate hegemony (Chapter 3). It is here that theories of empowerment become relevant. In a corporate-dominated market and culture, fair trade’s growth gives us a glimpse of the incipient possibility of scaling up by means of ‘power beyond’ as an emergent property of the interaction among ‘power with’, ‘power to’ and ‘power within’: the ‘power to’ enrol networks of networks comes from the ‘power within’ fair trade’s pioneers, which in turn is constituted through ‘power with’ their supporters. In other words, an alternative theory of power allows an alternative theory of the micro–macro mechanisms of networked transformation of regulatory capitalism. NETWORKS’ CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE TO SOCIAL ACTION AND POWER Network theory explores a large number of forms of social organisation, from families to organisations to nation-states.1 The term ‘network’ refers to a set of actors or entities (‘nodes’) situated in a network, and network analysis involves mapping the relationships between these nodes (‘ties’). Focusing on these nodal relationships, (social) network theory seeks to understand the way in which these relationships, and their nature, determine the behaviour, beliefs,...

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