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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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fair-trade, community, meaning, north-south alliance, local/global


Community, as traditionally conceptualized, has been an issue of widespread conversation and analysis. The conversation on community is extended here by engaging in the business practice of fair trade, which boasts of being an ethical entrepreneurial force that places its ideological focus on creating sustainable and fair communities that directly connects producers and consumers. Fair trade claims to bridge wage discrepancies, retailers goals and consumer concerns for social and environmental responsibility, however, the extent to which it is indeed effective in creating such a sustainable community in varied cultural and economic contexts is explored and analyzed in this project. The growing presence of “alternative” business spaces, specifically fair-trade organizations in Bangladesh, are focused on in this project, to study their role in community building, one that deviates from a so-called mainstream “capitalocentric” consumer society development model. Global fair-trade organizations like Aarong, Bangladesh and Bibi Productions that are located (and originated) outside the Global North/West are investigated and analyzed. Through this qualitative research project, the meanings and values that people attach to consuming products that stem from a production process that very self-consciously sets itself apart in its ethical production practices is investigated. Through an exploration of Fair-Trade Consumer Culture in Bangladesh, the fixed notion of the trade concept is challenged and the need for a new framework that is more inclusive and appropriate to the geo-political context of Bangladesh emerges, one that can revolutionize the applicability of the term beyond its current state.


First Advisor

Emily West

Second Advisor

Henry Geddes