The practice of Fairtrade support

Wheeler, Kathryn (2012). The practice of Fairtrade support. Sociology, 46(1) pp. 126–141.




This article employs a practice–theoretical approach in order to explore how preferences towards Fairtrade goods emerge and are sustained through engagement in varied social practices. In recent years, the rates of Fairtrade consumption have been growing steadily both within the UK and globally and this growth has been widely represented as the result of thousands of individual citizen-consumers ‘voting’ for fairer trade. This article moves away from current accounts of (Fairtrade) consumption that rely on models of conscious and expressive consumer choice and instead demonstrates how consumption is shaped by shared structures of knowledge, institutional frameworks and infrastructures of provision. In so doing, attention is drawn to the wider practice of Fairtrade support which is collectively constituted by agents from diverse social backgrounds and in which consuming Fairtrade goods forms only one part of what is means to be a ‘Fairtrade supporter’.

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