Fair Trade, Sustainability and Social Change

Ian Hudson, Mark Hudson and Mara Fridell

Is fair trade a radical movement aiming to transform global systems of production and exchange, or is it a marketing niche that delivers small benefits to Southern farmers and a clean conscience to Northern consumers? 

Schisms currently opening between the US-based Fair Trade USA and the rest of the international fair trade movement are reflective of this choice. This book evaluates the extent to which fair trade is likely to be a transformative movement. The authors show that fair trade's most significant, and threatened, contribution is its potential to reveal to otherwise 'blinded' consumers the qualitative aspects of labour and nature embodied in commodities. Integrating insights from economic and sociological theory and research, the book sheds new light on this potential of the movement, its role in producing social change, and, given the recent strategic trajectory of the movement, the serious problems it now faces