College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

11-2013

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

International Studies

Keywords

fair trade, Polanyi, commodity fetishism, textiles, scale of production

Abstract

This thesis examines the recent incorporation of factory production into fair trade textile production via a new fair trade certification program called the Apparel and Linens Program, launched by FairTrade USA. I argue that this expansion in the scale of production results in a dilution of fair trade’s commitment to improve the livelihoods of producers. To illustrate this argument, I first draw upon Polanyian and Marxist theories in order to theoretically ground the foundations of fair trade as well as its current trajectory. Additionally, I incorporate interviews, which I conducted at textile cooperatives in India, along with a content analysis that compares the Apparel and Linens program to the Fair Trade Federation’s Code of Practice, and a discourse analysis of the fair trade marketing campaigns of two large clothing corporations, Prana and Eileen Fisher. I conclude that the shift in property rights that takes place in the transition from cooperative to factory production results in a less beneficial arrangement for producers, who were once central to fair trade’s mission

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