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Is fair trade necessarily a moral act?

  • Alpha, Arlène; Diaz Pedregal, Viginie
  • Communication
  • Année : 2009/05
  • Langue(s) : Anglais
  • Communication : International Workshop « Fair Trade - A Moral Economy? », Cambridge University Business and Society Research Group, University of Cambridge, England, 22 mai 2009
  • Domaine(s) :

Is fair trade necessarily a moral act? More precisely, to what extent does insuring that producers have a minimum stable income inevitably refer to morality? While empirical studies on the various forms of fair trade have multiplied in recent years, a more theoretical analysis on the moral aspect of these forms of fair trade remains to be investigated. By referring to Émile Durkheim's work on the sociology of religion, we try to understand to what extent fair trade, and more precisely guaranteeing producers a minimum stable income, is necessarily a moral act, one that has a degree of authority over individual consciences. This idea stems from the analysis that the history of fair trade cannot be thought of without referring to the religious, even sacred, dimension of stakeholders' mental representations and practices. Fair trade benefits from a moral authority, granted by public opinion, by means of this religious dimension. This authority gives it the power to influence stakeholders. Fair trade has become a social standard in Western countries. The morality that it advocates both opposes and strengthens modern capitalism at the same time. This moral dimension totally excludes fair trade from the political sphere, even if its implementation leads to political choices.

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