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The power of Fairtrade

While the role of Fairtrade in promoting development globally has increasingly been asserted, there remains a need for in-depth research on how power relations shape alternative production networks, and the actual social impacts on producer communities.

This research addresses these gaps through a multi-scalar analysis of the Fairtrade wine sector. It is grounded in extended fieldwork in South Africa, Argentina and Chile, which are the key Fairtrade wine production spaces, alongside representatives of Fairtrade-International (Bonn, Germany) and the national Fairtrade organisations in the UK, Germany, Finland and Sweden.

Initial findings highlight the socio-economic challenges of achieving and maintaining Fairtrade certification, the increasing spread of computer systems and the uneven power relations within Fairtrade networks. Therefore, Fairtrade’s capacity to develop empowerment or resilience is constrained by the limited market opportunities and producer power within, and knowledge of, Fairtrade systems.

The project team

Agatha Herman

Dr Agatha Herman

Senior Lecturer


This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: