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Critical perspectives on fair trade

Special issue call for papers from critical perspectives on international business

Guest Editors: Jane Gibbon and Martyna Sliwa

For some years now, fair trade has been typically spoken and written about in solely positive terms, as a ``trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers -- especially in the South'' (FINE, 2001 in Moore, 2004, p. 73). However, the current global economic recession has brought with it the need to reflect on the way in which trade activities are carried out across the world, including those practices associated with fair trade. For example, questions have been asked whether, indeed, the ``Fair Trade Project'' is entirely beneficial to all involved parties and whether, in the present economic climate, we can actually afford to engage in fair trade.

Goodman (2004, p. 910) sees a need for fair trade to continue to ``become more politically and economically threatening'' by opening up ``the definition of `fairness' contra its economic logic to facilitate a broader constituency from which to construct a less privileged, more sustainable, and more just sense of development \ldots plantation workers, growers with lower quality products, and coffee servers can and should become a moral and politicized goal for fair trade \ldots a re-centring of Northern identities around notions of global citizenship rather than those of a one-dimensional consumer''. In response to this, we seek contributions to the critical exploration of the practices and discourses of fair trade. 

Contributions to the special issue may take theoretical or empirical approaches to the nature, dysfunctions and/or possibilities of fair trade. They might, for example, include discussions of:

  • How fair is fair trade?
  • Ethics of consumption and fair trade.
  • Marketing and fair trade.
  • Power and identity issues in fair trade.
  • Mainstreaming of fair trade.
  • Environmental and sustainability issues of fair trade.
  • The fair trade status of a city/university.
  • Fair trade as business strategy.
  • Political economy of fair trade.
  • Accreditation and cost of fair trade to producers.
  • Accountability and impact of fair trade on producers.
  • Co-operative and collective business models for fair trade.

Those wishing to contribute should submit an extended abstract of 1,000 words to Jane Gibbon ([email protected]k) or Martyna Sliwa ([email protected]) by 30 November 2009. Feedback on the abstracts will be provided by 30 December 2009. Full papers of 5,000-8,000 words should be submitted to the Guest Editors by 30 April 2010. Suitable articles will be subjected to a double-blind review; hence authors should not identify themselves in the body of the paper. The special issue is scheduled for publication in February 2011. Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or be under consideration for publication elsewhere. For additional information about the journal please see the journal's web page:

Goodman, M.K. (2004), ``Reading fair trade: political, ecological, imaginary and the moral economy of fair trade foods'', Political Geography, Vol. 23, pp. 891-915.
Moore, G. (2004), ``The fair trade movement: parameters, issues and future research'', Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 53, pp. 73-86.