College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


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


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