Item description for The No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade (No-Nonsense Guides) by David Ransom...
Meeting the people who grow our bananas and cocoa and make our clothes, this "No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade" tells the human story behind what we consume. Examin-ing the global contest between "free" and "fair" trade, David Ransom argues that the key question is not whether trade should be regulated or deregulated, but whether it is to be the master or servant of the people.
And as fair trade products are being turned into brands by large corporations, a new contest opens--it is no longer just a question of fair versus free, but what kind of fair trade.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.1" Width: 4.46" Height: 0.41" Weight: 0.35 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2006
Publisher New Internationalist
ISBN 190445643X ISBN13 9781904456438
Availability 0 units.
More About David Ransom
David Ransom has been a co-editor of New Internationalist magazine since 1989. He has edited a wide range of magazines, including several on fair trade. Prior to that he was a teacher and community worker in the East End of London. He spent several years at the London School of Economics working on the economic history of Latin America.
Reviews - What do customers think about The No-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade (No-Nonsense Guides)?
A polemic, not an explanation Feb 10, 2008
This book is at best a justification (chiefly by means of anecdotes) of why fair trade might be necessary or helpful. The stories it tells about farmers in various parts of the world are interesting and affecting. However, the book lacks a coherent explanation of what "fair trade" is. It also doesn't say anything about about the difference between the "alternative trade organization" (ATO) and certification approaches to fair trade, how fair trade certification organizations do their job, or about the tensions between certification and ATO approaches. So if you're a consumer who's already interested in supporting fair trade, you won't learn much.
The book is also very European, and mainly British, in its attention to the consumer side (which attention is scant, in any case). The US is rarely disussed except as a villain, and Japan and ROW markets are ignored. This myopia is significant especially in the case of bananas (Ch. 4). Some pieces of the US fair trade distribution chain have not been up to the challenges of dealing with a perishable fruit. The US market for fair trade bananas had actually shrunk by 2005, before this book's revision date. Also, the complex logistics of handling bananas forces more reliance on big producers, mainstream retailing and certification, which some people in the fair trade movement regard as a sort of treason to the movement's original intention. You won't hear any of this in the book, which instead focuses on telling a morality tale about the producer side. Its small text box about consumption tells only a sunny story, without any reference to the logistical issues or the related political tensions within the fair trade movement. For a more balanced picture, see Ch. 5 of "Fair Trade: The Challenges of Transforming Globalization," L. Raynolds, D. Murray & J. Wilkinson, eds. (Routledge: 2007).
The book has its origin in some magazine articles from the 1990s. There are at least two drawbacks to this. First, the presentation throughout (aside from the first chapter) is of first-person journalism, rather than systematic explanation. Second, most of the material was rather old even by the 2006 "revised edition" date claimed on the copyright page. (A couple of charts and text boxes have been updated, but the main text and other text boxes have not.) The literary style speaks in the idiom of ideological fellow travelers, rather than in a tone that might persuade the ignorant or undecided. E.g., an African farmer landing at Gatwick Airport is described as "lack[ing] the self-assurance of the globalized robots who run the world economy and pass through immigration like a subway turnstile" (@109). Call me a globalized robot, but IMHO you will miss little if you pass by this book.
Fair book at best on a crucial topic May 5, 2004
This is the weakest of the seven no-nonsense guides I have perused so far. Unless you already know quite a bit about fair trade (including the specific examples used in the book) the book is very confusing. To be honest, I am surprised this got past the editors at New Internationalist and Verso. The first chapter, on Chiapas, Mexico, is utterly nonsense (in direct violation of the series title!). It does, however, get a little clearer from there on. My other complaint is that the author portrays fair trade as a something of a panacea solution to the ills of the non-western world, at least right up until the last chapters. Fair trade, at best, will be one small part of a much larger solution to the disparities between the rich and poor of the world. This book gives something of a disingenuous "good news" feel, as for now, while fair trade is creating some opportunities for a lucky few in the Global South, what it's been really effective at is producing a target niche market for guilt-ridden consumers in the North. Don't get me wrong, we should all feel guilty about our complicity in the problems of the South, and buying fair trade is one small thing each of us can do. But my hunch is that there are folks out there who feel like they're "saving" the world through fair trade purchasing, making it for some, no doubt, yet another conscience-tonic for the well-off.