Changing Big Business
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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.
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Conclusion: Game-Playing – The Key to Global Empowerment

Anna Hutchens


In putting together the pieces of fair trade’s story over the last four chapters, this book has developed an alternative theory of power about social change. Power theories have traditionally favoured deterministic and/or liberal notions of power and empowerment. Alternative power theories, combined with Braithwaite’s sophisticated psychological framework of defiance, highlight the inadequacy of such a lens for understanding power in modern times. Fair trade’s development in the last two decades has been rapid, bringing both the advancement and appropriation of fair trade principles. Its grassroots base of support has been largely responsible for this growth – a labyrinth of networks all networking the fair trade message and contributing to its development. The Fairtrade certification system’s expansion has capitalised on the organic spread of fair trade’s social roots. Yet under the direction of (market-driven) LIs, FLO’s development has been shaped by an eager pursuit of ‘mainstream’ corporations and markets, opening the movement up to a series of political and philosophical fault lines. As Chapters 6 and 7 showed, it is in this context that fair trade’s pioneers in particular are of critical importance, both practically and conceptually (as game-players). Their ongoing disruption of institutional attempts to co-opt fair trade – both at the level of new innovations in business organisation and leading deliberative networks within FLO – will see the movement survive and prosper. The FTO brand model, in which farmers are co-owners of both company assets and trading processes and decisions, is an important one for FLO to promote. In...

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