Class dynamics and ideological construction in the struggle over fairness: a neo-Gramscian examination of the Fairtrade initiative
By Juan Ignacio Staricco
This paper develops a neo-Gramscian conceptual framework in order to examine the ideological constructs and political dynamics that frame the day-to-day workings of the certification-based Fairtrade initiative. To accomplish this goal, the paper resorts to the notion of a ‘comprehensive concept of control’, which accounts for the main ideological elements that constitute the Fairtrade vision of the world. The analysis of these imaginaries is complemented with an examination of the concrete ways in which they have been institutionalized in the Fairtrade system and the specific power relations between class fractions they promote. This is followed by an exploration of the way in which Fairtrade articulates the contradictory interests of a variety of class fractions, bringing them together under the shared objective of advancing the situation of small producers and workers in the global South. The paper finishes with a reflection on the main limitations inherent to Fairtrade’s concept of control and the political dynamics it entails.