Fair Trade from the Ground Up

New Markets for Social Justice

April Linton

  • $25.95s paperback (9780295991726) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: July 2012
  • Subject Listing: Global Studies, Sociology, Economics
  • Bibliographic information: 200 pp., 18 illus., notes, index, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World
  • Contents

Fair Trade promises to raise living standards in developing countries through:
- worldwide minimum prices for commodities
- support for democratically governed cooperatives
- requirement of minimum wages and safety standards for workers
- training to help producers improved quality and develop business skills
- encouragement of eco-friendly practices
- third-party certification

In contrast to the free trade status quo, Fair Trade relies on informed consumers to choose more direct supply chains that minimize the role of middlemen, offering economic justice and social change as a viable and sustainable alternative to charity. But does it work?

Fair Trade from the Ground Up documents achievements at both the producer and the consumer ends of commodity chains and assesses prospects for future growth. From Guatemalan coffee farmers to student activists on U.S. college campuses, the stories of individuals inform April Linton's analysis. Drawing on studies by social scientists and economists, as well as on new case studies, she provides balanced answers to hard questions: How can large institutions be persuaded to commit to using Fair Trade suppliers? Does ethical consumerism work? Are the "social premiums" that are built into Fair Trade prices really being used for community projects? Will Fair Trade market growth reach the scale of organics or green products? This book meets a long-felt need among economic-justice activists, consumer groups, and academics for a reliable qualitative and quantitative overview of achievements of the Fair Trade movement.

"Pulls back the curtain on the Fair Trade movement, and offers a compelling look at the nuances that make up the Fair Trade effort, integrating individual stories with well-researched analysis that is both astute and fair minded."- Paul Rice, President and CEO, Fair Trade USA

"In Fair Trade from the Ground Up April Linton brings together all the ingredients that have made Fair Trade what it is today. Referencing a good range of the literature available, she explores the world of the farmers who grow the crops, how they decide and ultimately spend the extra income Fair Trade delivers, and how they invest in their businesses and communities. She looks at the companies that develop and sell Fair Trade products and the challenge of Fair Trade becoming more mainstream. Through eight interviews she discovers how activists have built the movement and the market in communities, their universities, faith groups, or local buying co-ops.

"She doesn't hide from the difficult questions but gives us all enough information and context to understand the choices ahead and sets us the delicious challenge: when, where, and how Fair Trade participants can maintain a transformative agenda while successfully marketing a variety of products.

"Everyone who cares about a more just world-trade system, or simply a better deal for the people who work to make the treats that we all enjoy every day, should read this book and help us to make Fair Trade the norm in the USA." -Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director, Divine Chocolate Ltd.

"Professor Linton does a great service to the fair trade movement by offering a comprehensive review of research related to the practices of Fair Trade certification. In an accessible manner she contextualizes current debates in the fair trade movement, while sharing informative examples of the system's successes. This book will be a useful resource for students, advocates, and professionals who wish to understand how fair trade has had a positive impact on farmers, businesses, and communities." -Jackie DeCarlo, author of Fair Trade: A Beginner's Guide

"This book makes some important, fresh contributions to assessing the impacts of Fair Trade for producers, and to learning from advocacy efforts. While academics have done lots of case studies about Fair Trade, very few have begun synthesizing the results of the scattered evidence and methodologies the way April Linton does. Similarly, the book's analysis of a Fair Trade University initiative is new and insightful." -Jeff Goldman, Executive Director, Fair Trade Resource Network

"A great strength of this book is the breadth of the original surveys of everyone from producers to business owners to activists and institutional players. I don't know of any other work with such a broad assemblage of empirical pieces." -Matt Warning, University of Puget Sound

"April Linton is an incredible ally to farmers, workers, and activists around the world. A must-read for anyone looking to make a real difference with their actions and purchases, and a blueprint for building even more success in transforming the way the world does trade." -Billy Linstead Goldsmith, National Coordinator, Fair Trade Towns USA

April Linton taught sociology at the University of California San Diego and now works for the Fair Labor Association in Washington, DC. She is coeditor of The Global Governance of Food.


1. Fair Trade from the Ground Up

2. Fair Trade Coffee in Guatemala

3. How Do Producers Spend the Social Premium?

4. Selling and Buying Fair Trade

5. Fair Trade Activisim in the United States

6. A Fair Trade University

7. Growing Fair Trade


". . . an intriguing and informational read for anyone who is involved or interested in the fair trade movement." -Contemporary Sociology, November 2012

"This volume provides a rich, detailed framework for examining and discussing fair trade and the sustainability it encourages across the developed and developing worlds. Highly recommended." -A. B. Audant, Choice, January 2013