Artisans and Fair Trade: Crafting Development

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Kumarian Press, Mar 1, 2012 - Social Science - 230 pages
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* Addresses the cultural conditions under which artisan work provides a feasible income alternative to other employment options
* Offers a methodology for assessing the socio-economic impacts of fair trade artisan work

After agriculture and tourism, artisan work provides the next most significant source of income in many developing countries. Yet because of its image as a soft or frivolous industry, some politicians and development professionals question whether the handcraft sector is worthy of investment. An opposing view holds that the creation of sustainable employment opportunities for poor people and a positive alternative to mass production outweighs the costs. Until now, the debate has been hampered by a lack of industry data.

The apparel group MarketPlace: Handwork of India serves as the perfect case study to provide this missing information. Like many fair trade companies, it has dual goals: to generate income in the global marketplace and foster the empowerment of the low-income workers who run and staff the business. In conducting interviews with MarketPlace’s artisans, managers, and founders, Littrell and Dickson produced an in-depth socio-economic audit of the group over time. The result, Artisans and Fair Trade, provides a quantitatively and qualitatively illuminating study of fair trade impacts and a methodology that is sure to inform current assessment practices in social entrepreneurship and business social responsibility.
 

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About the author (2012)

Mary A. Littrell is Professor and Department Head in Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. Dr. Littrellrsquo;s research addresses multiple facets of business social responsibility, with special focus on artisan enterprises. Across her internationally recognized work, she has examined how textile artisan enterprises achieve viability in the increasingly competitive global market for artisan products.

Marsha A. Dickson is Professor and Department Chairperson in Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware. Dr. Dickson is internationally known for her research and teaching on socially responsible practices in the apparel industry. Her research has been conducted in several countries, including China, Guatemala, India, Thailand, and Vietnam. Dr. Dickson is founder and President of an international consortium of Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Business, whose initial membership includes over 80 apparel and textile educators from 35 states in the United States and seven countries. Dr. Dickson is also a member of the board of directors of the Fair Labor Association, a non-governmental organization originally formed by President Clinton to address labor standards and working conditions in the apparel industry.

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