The project is made up of two closely related sub-projects. The first sub-project, partly financed by Magnus Boström’s Formas project The Missing Pillar Incorporating the social dimension in transnational sustainability projects, investigates the notion of fair and sustainable trade in relation to the Fairtrade labelling organisation international (FLO). The Fairtrade movement has been active since the 1940s but it was not until the 1988 that the first fair trade label, the Max Havelaar label, was introduced in the Netherlands. Since then a number of different fair trade labels have developed, among others “rättvisemärkt” in Sweden. Many of these fair trade labelling organisations soon started to cooperate and in 1997 the cooperation was formalised into the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation International (FLO) (Renard 2003). The FLO has since then tried to change the rules of the game of the global market and to increase the amount of fairtrade labelled products. In the process of changing the rules of the game of the market, imposing a new spirit of capitalism in Boltanskis and Chiapello’s (2007) terms, the FLO takes an active part in giving meaning to the idea of ‘fair’ products.

I show how this is done through a process of bureaucratisation of the FLO’s fair-trade standards in which ‘fair’ or ‘fairness’ becomes precisely defined, formalised and made visible. The second part, which is a continuation of the first, focuses on companies in Sweden that produce and sell fair trade products. In what way are they part of creating and shaping fair markets? What processes are involved in the making and shaping of fair trade products as well as fairtrade labelled products? What possibilities and difficulties are entailed in trading ‘fair trade’ goods?

Read more about Renita Thedvalls research.