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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

Volume 20 Issue 1 (2013)

Download entire Issue  as one PDF

Pushing the Boundaries of the Social:

Private Agri-food Standards and the Governance of Fair Trade in European Public Procurement                     31-49

Eleanor Fisher and Hannah Sheppard

Abstract            PDF

This article examines how fair trade and associated private standards are integrated into European public procurement. Procurement law is guided by principles of equity, non-discrimination, and transparency; one consequence is that legal obstacles exist to fair trade being privileged within public purchasing. Taking an agency-based approach, evidence from Wales reveals how fair trade’s passage into procurement practice is negotiated and legal risk framed by different actors. This process exposes contestations over values that reflect wider dynamics between global civil society activism, public management bureaucracies, and neo-liberal rationales. Focusing on processes of governability, it is argued that there is a need to keep agency, power and knowledge in view within the dynamics of local transformation, rather homogenizing these dimensions as part of a technical process. Pushing the boundaries of the social in public procurement reveals
how practices and knowledge on ethical consumption enter into a new governance arena within the global agri-food system.

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