Fair Trade–Just How Fair are the Exchanges?
Fair trade has become increasingly recognized and studied since the late 1990s. It purports to be an example of a “fairer” exchange than conventional trade between South producers and North purchasers. Beyond the controversial definition of a “fair trade,” it is important to query stake-holder practices.
To what extent do fair trade stakeholders actually practice the principles of justice in exchanges? How do they perceive fairness? Given these questions, the authors of this article analyze both specialized and labeled commodity chains, using the Laotian organization Lao Farmers Product as a case study. Based on documentary and netnographic research, as well as semistructured interviews, the study identifies impediments to the emergence of a consensus on the notion of fairness in exchange. The theories of Kant, Habermas, Walzer, and Elster help to explain why.