I gratefully acknowledge the National Science Foundation, SBE-Sociology Program (award 0920980) for funding research presented here and the journal editor and reviewers for constructive comments on this article. I owe special thanks to Erica Schelly for her able research assistance and to the fair trade–certified farm owners, managers, and workers who helped inform this study. Thanks are due also to the industry, labor, and fair trade representatives interviewed as part of this study. The views presented here are mine and should not be attributed to these individuals or organizations.
Fair Trade Flowers: Global Certification, Environmental Sustainability, and Labor Standards†
Article first published online: 26 SEP 2012
Copyright © 2012, by the Rural Sociological Society
Volume 77, Issue 4, pages 493–519, December 2012
How to Cite
Raynolds, L. T. (2012), Fair Trade Flowers: Global Certification, Environmental Sustainability, and Labor Standards. Rural Sociology, 77: 493–519. doi: 10.1111/j.1549-0831.2012.00090.x
- Issue published online: 13 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 26 SEP 2012
This article analyzes the organization of the fair trade flower industry, integration of Ecuadorian enterprises into these networks, and power of certification to address key environmental and social concerns on participating estates. Pursuing a social regulatory approach, I locate fair trade within the field of new institutions that establish and enforce production criteria in international markets. My research finds that while firm owners and managers support fair trade's environmental and social goals, these commitments are delimited by mainstream market expectations related to production efficiency and product quality. In environmental arenas, certification helps ensure that conditions exceed legal mandates and industry norms. In social arenas, certification helps ensure that labor standards exceed legal and industry expectations and funds important programs benefiting workers and their families. Where unions are absent, fair trade's greatest impact may be in the establishment of workers' committees that can build collective capacity. Although these new labor organizations face numerous challenges, they may strengthen the social regulation of global flower networks, making firms accountable to their workers as well as to nongovernmental organizations, retailers, and consumers.