Ethics, Journeys and Wine: Investigating the Discourses of Fairtrade and Black Economic Empowerment through Wine Networks from South Africa to the UK
Date: 11 January 2010
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Geography
This thesis investigates how discourses of fairness and empowerment are variously constructed and carried within networks of South African Fairtrade wine production. Fairness and empowerment have emerged as central discourses for contemporary conceptualisations of development and governance, particularly in reference to the creation ...
This thesis investigates how discourses of fairness and empowerment are variously constructed and carried within networks of South African Fairtrade wine production. Fairness and empowerment have emerged as central discourses for contemporary conceptualisations of development and governance, particularly in reference to the creation of alternative articulations to conventional/existent trading and economic practices. These discourses have become stabilised into the now institutional discourses of Fairtrade and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), yet both retain the capacity for resistance and changes to their understandings, practices, materialities and even the core premise which constitutes and is constituted by these. By following four wine networks from South Africa to the UK, the changing ways in which Fairtrade and BEE were articulated through the network, interacting and responding to the changing contexts en route became apparent. Indeed, this thesis is all about following - methodologically and theoretically - drawing a dynamic unfurling into the writing through a chronologically informed, non-chapter based structure, which follows the journey underlying the research. Through the ethnographic interview methodology undertaken, contextuality, complexity and contingency emerged as critical to understanding the operations of the discourses within the wine networks and the power relations attendant on these. A nuanced understanding of the significance of immutability in both discourse and power operations was developed that recognised the necessity of an overarching and stabilised core premise and regulator and yet simultaneous ground-level dynamism and multiplicity. Without the latter, the wine networks are unable to enrol stakeholders, essential to the continuing performance demanded by their relational nature, because they need to be ever contextually relevant. Wine itself presented a lens through which to understand the issues that this presents in the mismatch between common consumer associations between wine and Fairtrade, which means that the latter faces significant challenges to developing this particular ethical market.
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