Handbook of Research on Fair Trade
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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.
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Chapter 17: Retailers, corporate ethics and fair trade

Alex Hughes


The past few decades since the 1980s have witnessed a ‘retail revolution’ (Bromley and Thomas 1993; Neilson and Pritchard 2007). This phenomenon has included the expansion of large retail transnational corporations (TNCs), a shift in the balance of power from manufacturers to retailers in supply chains and the development of sophisticated and strongly branded retail store operations in the context of an increasingly consumer-driven and services-led global economy. In the grocery retail sector, brands such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour have become key economic actors and household names not only in their home economies of the United States, the United Kingdom and France respectively, but also in countries where they have expanded operations throughout Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia (Wrigley et al. 2005). This transformation provides the changing commercial context with which Fairtrade has recently engaged. Whereas the 1980s and 1990s for the most part saw the growth of retail corporations and the development of Fairtrade occur quite separately, since the turn of the 21st century their pathways have coincided. From the early 2000s the Fairtrade movement, originally set up in opposition to capitalist business models, began to engage with retail corporations associated with them. This engagement represents a crucial part of the contested and hotly debated process of Fairtrade mainstreaming (see also chapters by Ronan Le Velly, Darryl Reed and Peter Utting in this volume).

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