Contesting Fair Trade in Colombia's Cut-Flower Industry: A Case of Cultural Injustice

Caroline Wright and Gilma Madrid
Publication Date: 
Based on a case study of Colombia’s cut-flower industry, this article draws strategically on Nancy Fraser’s model of (in)justice to explore the mutual entwinement of culture and economy.
The study examines responses by cut-flower employers and their representatives to ethical trade discourses demanding economic justice for Colombia’s largely female cut-flower workers. It argues that employers’ misrecognition of both ethical trade campaigners and cut-flower workers may serve to deny and redefine claims of maldistribution. Through a ‘home-grown’ code of conduct, employers also seek to appropriate ethical trade in their own interests. Finally, a gender coding of worker misrecognition ostensibly displaces workers’ problems from the economic realm to the cultural, offering the ‘modernity’ of full capitalist relations as the solution. In further examining the ‘responses to the responses’ by workers and their advocates, the contestation of ethical trade is highlighted and its prospects assessed.