Learning to be global citizens: The rationalities of fair-trade education

Pykett, J.; Cloke, P.; Barnett, C.; Clarke, N. and Malpass, A. (2010). Learning to be global citizens: The rationalities of fair-trade education. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28(3) pp. 487–508.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1068/d14908


The ethics of everyday consumption has become a key concern for social and environmental justice campaigning by NGOs in the United Kingdom. Schools are a prominent site for such campaigns, where, alongside other ‘controversial issues’ and initiatives such as citizenship education, the problematisation of consumption practices has developed its own distinctive set of pedagogical devices. This paper questions the analytical framing of education as a space of neoliberal subjectification, in which ‘critical pedagogy’ is seen as the only legitimate form of resistance within theoretical models of domination – subordination and governmentality. The institutionalisation of fair-trade education in schools in Bristol, a city in the southwest of England, is presented as an empirical case through which to consider how best to theorise the rationalities of consumption-oriented campaigning by NGOs. We discuss the consequences of problematising global responsibility where learning is seen as a performative encounter between reflexive actors situated in particular sociocultural environments.

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