Buying into Fair Trade

Culture, Morality, and Consumption

Keith R. Brown

NYU Press (publisher)

Stamped on products
from coffee to handicrafts, the term “fair trade” has quickly become one of
today’s most seductive consumer buzzwords. Purportedly created through fair
labor practices, or in ways that are environmentally sustainable, fair-trade
products give buyers peace of mind in knowing that, in theory, how they shop
can help make the world a better place. Buying
into Fair Trade turns the spotlight onto this growing trend, exploring how fair-trade
shoppers think about their own altruism within an increasingly global economy.

 
Using over 100 interviews with
fair-trade consumers, national leaders of the movement, coffee farmers, and
artisans, author Keith Brown describes both the strategies that consumers use
to confront the moral contradictions involved in trying to shop ethically and the
ways shopkeepers and suppliers reconcile their need to do good with the
ever-present need to turn a profit. In addition to his in-depth analysis of the
fair-trade market, Brown also provides a how-to chapter that outlines
strategies readers can use to appear altruistic.This chapter highlights the ways that
socially responsible markets have been detached from issues of morality. A
fascinating account of how consumers
first learn about, understand, and sometimes ignore the ethical implications of
shopping, Buying into Fair Trade sheds
new light on the potential for the fair trade market to reshape the world into
a more socially-just place.

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