We are told that simply by sipping our morning cup of organic, fair-trade coffee we are encouraging environmentally friendly agricultural methods, community development, fair prices, and shortened commodity chains. But what is the reality for producers, intermediaries, and consumers? This ethnographic analysis of fair-trade coffee analyzes the collective action and combined efforts of fair-trade network participants to construct a new economic reality.
Focusing on La Voz Que Clama en el Desierto-a cooperative in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala-and its relationships with coffee roasters, importers, and certifiers in the United States, Coffee and Community argues that while fair trade does benefit small coffee-farming communities, it is more flawed than advocates and scholars have acknowledged. However, through detailed ethnographic fieldwork with the farmers and by following the product, fair trade can be understood and modified to be more equitable.
This book will be of interest to students and academics in anthropology, ethnology, Latin American studies, and labor studies, as well as economists, social scientists, policy makers, fair-trade advocates, and anyone interested in globalization and the realities of fair trade. Winner of the Society for Economic Anthropology Book Award
This critical account of the fair trade movement explores the vast gap between the rhetoric of fair trade and its practical results for poor countries, particularly those of Africa. In the Global North, fair trade often is described as a revolutionary tool for transforming the lives of millions across the globe. The growth in sales for fair trade products has been dramatic in recent years, but most of the benefit has accrued to the already wealthy merchandisers at the top of the value chain rather than to the poor producers at the bottom.
Ndongo Sylla has worked for Fairtrade International and offers an insider’s view of how fair trade improves—or doesn’t—the lot of the world’s poorest. His methodological framework first describes the hypotheses on which the fair trade movement is grounded before going on to examine critically the claims made by its proponents. By distinguishing local impact from global impact, Sylla exposes the inequity built into the system and the resulting misallocation of the fair trade premium paid by consumers. The Fair Trade Scandal is an empirically based critique of both fair trade and traditional free trade; it is the more important for exploring the problems of both from the perspective of the peoples of the Global South, the ostensible beneficiaries of the fair trade system.
Spearheaded by Harvey Washington Wiley, the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 launched the federal regulation of food and drugs in the United States. Wiley is often lauded as a champion of public interest for bringing about a law that required healthful ingredients and honest labeling. Clayton Coppin and Jack High demonstrate, however, that Wiley was in fact surreptitiously allied with business firms that would benefit from regulation and moreover, that the law would help him build his government agency, the Federal Bureau of Chemistry.
Coppin and High discuss such issues as Wiley's efforts to assign the law's enforcement to his own bureau. They go on to expose the selectivity of Wiley's enforcement of the law, in which he manipulated commercial competition in order to reward firms that supported him and penalize those that opposed him. By examining the history of the law's movement, the authors show that, rather than acting in the public interest, Wiley used the Pure Food and Drugs Act to further his own power and success. Finally, they analyze government regulation itself as the outcome of two distinct competitive processes, one that takes place in the market, the other in the polity.
The book will interest scholars concerned with government regulation, including those in economics, political science, history, and business.
Clayton Coppin is a management consultant and historian, Koch Industries, Wichita. Jack High is Professor of Economics, George Mason University.