Vol. 3, No. 2, March 2022
Systems, solidarity and fair trade
Systems, solidarity and fair trade
Author(s): Tony Brauer, Maria Angela Zamora Chaves and Mike King
Abstract: The words fair trade are simple, but the ideas behind them are complex. Systems thinking allows an accessible, pluralistic response in which diversity is a bonus rather than a problem, while the model developed here offers a coherent framework for some familiar ideas, and some perhaps less so. A key distinction is made between procedural and reconstructive fair traders. Procedural fair traders focus on making market procedures more equitable. Reconstructive fair traders seek directly to repair social and environmental inequities arising from market and other systemic failures. These roles are seen as complementary rather than mutually exclusive. Procedural reform of the market rewrites the role of intermediaries in the supply chain from profit maximisation towards facilitation. At the same time, both types of fair trader are concerned by the market’s tendency to externalise social and environmental costs. Both types of fair traders also recognise the importance of consumer awareness: corporate behaviour is influenced both by the aggregate of purchasing decisions and by reputational concerns. All of these factors can be understood in the context of an holistic systems view of fair trade in three dimensions: the qualitative narrative, the quantifiable evidence, and the realities of ethical pluralism. This first model is fairly abstract, although underpinned by genuine experience. There is a further step, in which the contribution of this generalised model to the strategies of fair-trade enterprises will be explored.
Keywords: environment; equity; fair trade; participation; solidarity; systems modelling techniques; systems thinking; well-being
Abstract: The recent global economic crisis has highlighted the vulnerability of millions of women in apparel supply chains worldwide. Despite decades of activism and a plethora of corporate social responsibility and ethical labelling initiatives, there has been little evidence of progress toward greater equity in the fashion sector. Why can’t we make fashion more fair? This article explains historically rooted causes of inequity for Black and Brown women in apparel supply chains and details the rise of Fair Trade initiatives intended to use market forces to improve existing practices and support alternatives. Attempts to use consumerism and market forces to drive social change raised deep questions for social movement actors regarding first principles. Notwithstanding years of effort, Fair Trade apparel has failed to achieve any significant market penetration. Yet the sector as a whole is experiencing overlapping shocks of digitisation, climate change and pandemic-exacerbated disruptions to supply chains. Social movement actors are also targeting the sector with new demands for social and economic justice. This may provide opportunities to redesign our thinking around Fair Trade and what constitutes fairness in fashion.
Keywords: fashion, labour, gender, Fair Trade, Fairtrade, sweatshops, apparel, certification, ethical standards, antiracism, decolonisation
Abstract: From the 1970s to the 1990s, Fair Trade was at the front edge of an emerging new paradigm about the purpose of business and the meaning of economic success. The movement for a just, inclusive, and regenerative economy has continued to expand, but today’s young entrepreneurs and activists are more likely to enter through other communities like Buy Local campaigns, racial justice, worker ownership, platform co-operatives, B Corps, social enterprise, regenerative agriculture, zero waste or climate action. Social movements often happen in waves across multiple generations. As Fair Trade commodity certification has become increasingly mainstream, it can be seen as a first wave of the movement. It is a success that deserves to be celebrated, but on its own, it is difficult to sustain. The Fair Trade enterprise community has the potential to engage the next generation of mission-driven entrepreneurs and activists, speed up the next wave of the movement and lock in the success of the first.
Keywords: Fair Trade, diffusion of innovation, social movements, buy local, racial justice, social enterprise, B Corps, platform co-operatives, zero waste, climate action
An Investigation of Fair Trade Product Knowledge, Beliefs, Experiences and Buying Intentions of Generation Z in the US
Author(s): Zoia Pavlovskaia and Ali Kara
Abstract: The Fair Trade movement is an alternative way to conduct international and domestic business by trying to improve trading conditions of disadvantaged producers around the world through consumer actions. Consumers can support the movement by purchasing FT certified products, which confirm that products meet ethical principles and environmental standards that are set in accordance with the requirements. However, FT product sales in the US have been lagging in comparison to the FT product sales in Europe. For instance, per capita consumption of the value of FT products was approximately €3 in the US in comparison to €34 in the UK (Fairtrade International, 2016). This study investigates several variables that can influence Fair Trade consumption, and, specifically, the effects of consumers’ knowledge, beliefs and past experiences on their purchase intentions of Fair Trade products among urban youth consumers in the US. Using the Theory of Reasoned Action as the conceptual framework, data were collected from 154 subjects using an online survey. The results indicate that consumer knowledge about FT has significant positive influence on their purchase intentions, but this relationship is mediated and strengthened by their beliefs and past behaviour. We offer various implications of these findings to FT businesses and organisations.
Keywords: fair trade; Generation Z; theory of reasoned action; fair trade purchase intentions