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Fair trade: global problems and individual responsibilities

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  • Goff, Sarah C.

Abstract

The topic of global trade has become central to debates on global justice and on duties to the global poor, two important concerns of contemporary political theory. However, the leading approaches fail to directly address the participants in trade and provide them with normative guidance for making choices in non-ideal circumstances. This paper contributes an account of individuals’ responsibilities for global problems in general, an account of individuals’ responsibilities as market actors, and an explanation of how these responsibilities coexist. The argument is developed through an extended case study of a consumer’s choice between conventional and fair trade coffee. My argument is that the coffee consumer’s choice requires consideration of two distinct responsibilities. First, she has responsibilities to help meet foreigners’ claims for assistance. Second, she has moral responsibilities to ensure that trades, such as between herself and a coffee farmer, are fair rather than exploitative.

Suggested Citation

  • Goff, Sarah C., 2016. "Fair trade: global problems and individual responsibilities," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68285, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:68285
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/68285/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Democracies Pay Higher Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 707-738.
    2. L. ALAN WINTERS & NEIL McCULLOCH & ANDREW McKAY, 2015. "Trade Liberalization and Poverty: The Evidence So Far," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Non-Tariff Barriers, Regionalism and Poverty Essays in Applied International Trade Analysis, chapter 14, pages 271-314 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. James, Aaron, 2012. "Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199846153.
    4. Hayes, M.G., 2008. ""Fighting the Tide: Alternative Trade Organizations in the Era of Global Free Trade"--A Comment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2953-2961, December.
    5. Sumner, Andy, 2012. "Where Do The Poor Live?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 865-877.
    6. Weber, Jeremy G., 2011. "How much more do growers receive for Fair Trade-organic coffee?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 678-685.
    7. Paul Stoddart, 2011. "Development Through Fair Trade: Candour Or Deception?," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(1), pages 131-134, March.
    8. Alastair M. Smith, 2009. "EVALUATING THE CRITICISMS OF FAIR TRADE -super-1," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 29-36, December.
    9. Arnould, Eric & Plastina, Alejandro & Ball, Dwayne, 2009. "Does Fair Trade Deliver on Its Core Value Proposition? Effects on Income, Educational Attainment, and Health in Three Countries," Staff General Research Papers Archive 39169, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fair trade; exploitation; responsibility; global justice; ethical consumerism;

    JEL classification:

    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce

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