This paper critically examines the marketing of fair trade, arguing that the use of the term producer conflates a number of categories of actors, not all of whom benefit equally. The authors contend that the two existing archetypes – the noble peasant farmer and the independent artisan – and the emerging archetype of the “empowered decision maker” serve to obscure and mask complex labour relationships.
This conceptual paper draws on a wide range of literature and original fieldwork conducted by the authors to illustrate the three marketing archetypes in the fair trade value chain.
Hidden behind the three dominant archetypes used to promote fair trade is a relationship between fair trade “producers” (small farmer, craft enterprise and plantations) and permanent and temporary/casual labourers. The trickle‐down of fair trade benefits to these workers is uneven at best and falls far short of the expectation of empowerment of all “producers” that fair trade promises.
The fair trade project must look beyond the simple archetypes to engage more deeply with labour issues in the fair trade value chain, and to re‐engage with fair trade as a development strategy through which broader and more complex forms of empowerment can be realised.
Fair trade standards are not a substitute for organised labour's activities. Interactions between trade unions and fair trade bodies could ensure that existing labour standards are met, and improvements in the lives of all workers can occur.
This paper conceptualises three fair trade mainstream marketing archetypes and suggests why and how the fair trade movement must move beyond these to ensure empowerment amongst its least well‐off stakeholders.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited