Structure and Agency in the Fair Trade System
This chapter explores the meanings that roasters and consumers in North America ascribe to fair trade relationships by focusing on “relationship coffees” in Mexico. More specifically, it analyzes the complex interplay of structure and agency, as well as ideas about structure and agency, within a global movement that plays out in distinctly different historical and spatial contexts. To this end, the chapter contrasts the attitudes of fair trade activists and roasters in the United States toward “relationship coffees” with those of fair trade coffee growers in Mexico toward the new trading networks. It argues that the experiences of Mexico's fair trade coffee producers are evidence of the disparity between the ways fair trade advocates and producers conceptualize the new trading system.
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