Market Affections: Moral Encounters with Kenyan Fairtrade Flowers

Dolan, Catherine (2007) Market Affections: Moral Encounters with Kenyan Fairtrade Flowers. Ethnos, 72 (2). pp. 239-261.


This paper explores commodity exchange as a morally inflected practice, one that mediates competing tensions of greed and generosity, the sacred and profane, and affection and estrangement through the fairtrade flower. Using the UK–Kenya fairtrade flower commodity chain to examine the cultural economy of fairtrade, I suggest that like the charity business and the international development industry, fairtrade complicates the distinction between the sacred and secular and the gift and commodity as Northern consumers and NGOs weave webs of obligation through the medium of the market. Further, I argue that while fairtrade is predicated on values of partnership and interdependence, it also operates within commodity chains that advance liberal ethics as a mode of ‘governmentality’ over African producers, translating consumers' sympathy-based humanism into new technologies of regulation and surveillance.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ethics, consumption, fair-trade, Kenya, development
Subject(s): Retail
Centre: Oxford Institute of Retail Management
Faculty of Marketing
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2011 13:23
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View