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 29: Fairtrade International’s multi-dimensional impacts in Africa

Valerie Nelson and Adrienne Martin


In this chapter we use emerging empirical evidence on the impact of Fairtrade, drawing on studies by the authors and other researchers. Combined, these studies provide a much stronger evidence base than has been previously available. We have extracted the findings on Fairtrade International impact in Africa from multi-region studies. We consider primarily the impacts for producers and workers, but also the implications at an organizational level. We identify the key factors which determine Fairtrade’s impact in different contexts. We argue that the evidence shows that there are many positive benefits generated by Fairtrade, but there are questions arising from a development perspective and a need for new Fairtrade strategies and innovation. Until recently there has been little evidence on Fairtrade’s impact in Africa. A meta-review found comparatively few studies focusing on regions beyond Latin America, commodities other than coffee, and some issues were neglected (e.g., gender and social difference, hired labor issues) (Nelson and Pound 2009). The relative efficacy of Fairtrade vis-à-vis other sustainability standards was not addressed and the studies had limited comparability and rigor. A series of studies has been published on Fairtrade impact since 2010, making a stronger evidence base including recent studies commissioned by Fairtrade organizations and donors. We analyze the findings of these studies after briefly discussing methodological challenges and issues. The Fairtrade commissioned studies are largely qualitative in nature and thus generally lack quantitative measurement of impacts and statistically controlled comparisons.

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