Gendered Conventions of ‘Ethicality’?

Kiah Smith (2017)

Journal of Consumer Ethics, Vol 1 Issue 2, p. 19-30.

Abstract. Within global food networks, multiple and diverse meanings of social justice, environmental sustainability, livelihoods, fairness and well-being (or ‘ethicality’) exist in parallel to those embedded in ethical sourcing schemes. This paper considers the dilemma facing ethical sourcing when consumer- or retailer-driven ethical values around social justice, environmental sustainability, livelihoods, fairness and well-being (or ‘ethicality’) – differ from the issues that women smallholder farmers may prioritise. Drawing on conventions theory and qualitative research with women French bean farmers in Kenya, the paper describes the ways in which meanings of ‘ethicality’ are highly gendered and context-specific. Findings suggest that women smallholders draw from a wide variety of domestic, civic and green conventions in order to make meaning of the livelihood outcomes that matter most to them within ethical trade networks. Only some of these are compatible with the market and industrial conventions currently underpinning fair and ethical trade.

Keywords: Gender; ethical trade; fair trade; conventions theory; smallholders.

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