In the Market But Not Of It: Fair Trade Coffee and Forest Stewardship Council Certification as Market-Based Social Change

Peter Taylor
Publication Date: 
This paper discusses two well-known market-based social change initiatives, Fair Trade coffee and Forest Stewardship Council certification, which harness market forces to pursue social and environmental objectives. A serious challenge for both is to operate in the conventional market without undermining their original objectives.
A global commodity chain analysis approach is combined with insights from economic sociology embeddedness theory to explore the social, cultural and organization factors shaping the initiatives governance structures. Both initiatives are seen to move along opposite organization trajectories, but face similar pressures from conventional market logics, practices and dominant actors. A preliminary framework is proposed for comparative assessment, focusing on distribution of benefits, how conventional market institutions may be questioned, and how internal governance manages diverse stakeholder interests and influence.