Responsabilit socitale et dveloppement durable


ICTs and Ethical Consumption: The Political and Market Futures of Fair Trade

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Publication date: Available online 26 April 2014

Author(s): Eleftheria J. Lekakis

This paper addresses the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and ethical consumption as part of a cause for the insurance of a sustainable future. It homes in on fair trade as an ethical market, politically progressive cause and, crucially, form of participation where citizens can engage in the formation of an alternative future and the broader issue of food security. An three-dimensional analysis of agencies and uses of digital structures and content is informed by a case study approach, as well as interviews with fair trade activists, and ethically consuming citizens in the British metropolis. Through this, the argument which primarily rises distinguishes between the dimensions of durability (in terms of time and duration) and sustainability (in terms of time, duration and environmental concerns) of engagement in fair trade as a form of participation. Ethical consumption, then, is part of a durable market which has developed despite general market fluctuation, but is still very much bound in traditional physical economic spaces; in other words, ethical consumption has been integrated in the business as usual paradigm. Additionally, ICTs have not challenged the way in which information about ethical consumption is communicated or the spaces in which it is conducted. ICTs have been employed by fair trade activists, but they have not contributed to the development of fair trade as a political or economic project. Over a period of over five decades since the inception of the cause, their use has not significantly altered the way in which citizens engage with fair trade in the alternative or mainstream marketplace.

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