Fair Trade, Ethical Business & New Moral Economies

Module code: 845L6
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Report

Where and under what conditions are our T-shirts produced? How does Fair Trade impact on the livelihoods of small farmers in the Global South? Is Corporate Social Responsibility just a marketing ploy? Has ethics become only a matter of personal consumption behaviour?

This module familiarises you with discourses and practices around ethics and engagement in the global economy. It covers some of the ways in which ethics in markets, trade and global production networks are phrased and expressed in the contemporary world, and explores what sorts of mobilisations have emerged in the light of new ethical concerns. You will explore the ways in which ethical issues within the sphere of the economy have long been articulated in terms of moral economy, philanthropic giving, and relationships of patronage and dependency.  The module goes on to discusses the contemporary shift towards global trade and production networks, and the ways in which this shift has produced new ethical concerns around economic behaviour.

These concerns are increasingly (and differentially) expressed in terms of CSR, fair trade and ethical consumption. They also give rise to a series of engagements in terms of CSR interventions, ethical trade initiatives, civil society activism and critical consumption practices. You will assesses each of these initiatives from both a theoretical and an ethnographic perspective. You will also critically consider the implications of such engagements in terms of power, equality and gender, and the ways in which they emerge from and reproduce complex global interdependencies.

Module learning outcomes

  • Show advanced knowledge of issues and concepts of morality, ethics and engagement in the global economy;
  • Show a critical grasp of advanced theories of moral economy, fair trade, ethical consumption and corporate citizenship;
  • Demonstrate an in-depth awareness of the variety of forms that ethics and engagment take in the context of the global economy through empirical literature;
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of different forms of ethical engagement;
  • Demonstrate critical capacities in thinking about morality, ethics and engagement in the global economy.