Trade Politics

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Johnson is expected to discuss the possibility of a trade deal with the US when he meets Donald Trump on Sunday, although he has made clear that the National Health Service cannot form part of any agreement. However, Downing Street has been keen to avoid any sense that Johnson will be a pushover, or turn his back on Europe. Johnson, who is also scheduled to meet Donald Tusk on Sunday, reiterated his demand on Saturday that the EU27 remove the Irish backstop from the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The correlations between these different forms of civic engagement are constant, and point to the unstable construction of citizenship. Within the context of liquid modernity, civic life appears as only one part of a warped whirlpool of threads, the total of which can allure citizens into a different realm, one where consumption offers the sense of a more direct and less confusing representation than parliamentary politics.

The fluidity of citizenship roles has become a transient mode of participation.

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Cultural citizenship, thus, necessitates the exploration of the politics of liquid modernity as an overarching context. Consumer citizenship, specifically, has been treading that thin line between commitment and choice. But this, explicitly, can be interpreted in light of a liquid politics characterised by individualisation, plasticity and consumerism. The ephemeral nature of consumer citizenship is rooted in the attempt, but unstable ability of citizens to practice ethical consumption.

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Ease of access to fair trade goods in the mainstream market is a definitive factor in its commercial success. Two thirds of the respondents underlined ready availability as a crucial determinant to their ethical consumption rituals.

George Friedman: U.S. Can Withstand Trade War More Than China Can

It appears, then, that commitment to fair trade is enabled by the effortlessness of ethical consumption in familiar commercial spaces. This resonates with a notion of liquid politics as fleeting participation. This type of casual engagement with the ethical marketplace is facilitated by the ease of access to it. There is a difference identified between ethical choice based on proximity and ethical choice based on distance from the shop to the home.

Consumer citizenship is resolutely about transient convenience.

The Soaring Economic and Political Costs of Trump’s Incoherent Trade Policy

Less observable was the lack of sharing this view; as less than a third of interviewees did not believe that their involvement in coffee activism is inherently political. A conceptualisation of liquid politics is relevant; this is so because such a model can help organise the theoretical backdrop of the politics of consumption with the grounded experiences of liquid consumption.

Consumer citizenship is enacted individually, in contrast with the practices of Politics with a capital p. The body politic has, therefore, been, both in market and political arenas, influenced by the parameter of individualisation. However, an intricate relationship exists between individuality and collectivity here. In fact, in liquid politics there is matrix of parameters in the determination of the focus and space of the enactment of citizenship acts. Such a perception of politics also allows for a global vista into a political imaginary.

The very existence, history and nature of coffee activism have been infused by the increasing connection between the commodity-producing communities of the global South and the commodity-consuming individuals of the global North:. The effects of globalisation in terms of the relevant freedom of mobility in international travel and the ubiquitous mediation of global issues has been considered crucial to the reconfiguration of identity and citizenship. This is especially the case in terms of forming an understanding of the issues facing citizens of the world. Theories of cosmopolitanism attempt to explain how the intensification of links between cultures and individuals has almost removed national blinkers from citizens Featherstone, Cosmopolitanism, then, in terms of political identity, refers to widened citizen consciousness with respect to international issues.

Consumer citizenship, however, does not entail a coherent manifestation of a global citizenship Sassatelli, , but it rather instils an imagined emotional attachment to the act of ethical purchase. A re-examination of attention to local, national and international politics is essential. From its basis, a supply and demand balance which delivers the success of the cosmopolitan fair trade narrative places the consumer at a more privileged position and the producers at an under-privileged position.

By outlining specific types of stories, fair trade activism is mostly recognised as promoting the life stories of farmers and beckoning the consumer to actively change them to the better. By narrating the consequences of opposing life circumstances, fair trade activism signifies and stresses the responsibility of consumer action. For example, the repertoires of the fair trade cause have been framing participation in the cause as a predominantly market-based phenomenon which is encouraged through the affective connection of consumers with producers narrated in the promotional material of the movement cf.

The Soaring Economic and Political Costs of Trump’s Incoherent Trade Policy

Lekakis, forthcoming. Similarly, but in a more individually-fulfilling manner, Soper ; Soper et al. One interviewee correspondingly suggested that fair trade consumption should not be regarded as a political outlet, but rather as a means of self-expression.

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This narrative of self-expression coincides with the narrative of affective connection through the marketplace. Cosmopolitan consumer citizenship attempts to make claims to global rights and responsibilities. Huey, ; Nicholls and Opal, The infiltration of consumer culture in manifestations of citizenship can therefore not be denied. Indeed, the mechanism which facilitates the manifestation of consumer citizenship is the marketplace. But this new form of consumption does not only have moral repercussions. Barnett et al. In the particular politics of fair trade, this type of citizenship is more apparent than others.

Through its diverse manifestations in raising awareness, advocating, and protesting for solidarity in international coffee trade, coffee activism is one of the most interesting examples of how activism is now centred around a single-issue which is global and at the same time local, political but also commercial. However, this raises concerns in relation to the banality of cosmopolitan consumer citizenship, as elaborated in the next section. Therefore, a picture of liquid politics can be drawn in light of the political detriment of solid modernity and the market high life of liquid modernity.

The extrapolation of an argument on the existence of a politics of liquid modernity offers a substantive way of conceptualising the politics of consumption in terms of ephemeral participation, cosmopolitan concerns and a particular type of individualised action. Bauman does not discuss liquid politics as he views it as captured and capitalised by liquid modernity. However, while his genealogy of liquidity negates traditional politics, liquid politics can be associated with fleeting interactions, cosmopolitan concerns and individualised types of action.

A liquid politics is prone to open forms of engagement and broader definitions of citizenship both inclusive and exclusive of the traditional politics of solid modernity; it, therefore, captures legal-judicial and political, but also affective formats of participation. The driver for the articulation of this kind of politics stems from the evident decline of traditional modalities of politics, the precariousness of institutions and individuals within the matrix of international relations and development, the individualisation of existence both in a neoliberal self-managerial perspective, but also from an institutional one in terms of the decline of publicly-oriented institutions , the consequent decomposition of the collective and the reign of consumerism in advanced capitalist societies.

Later I explore how the meshing of political and economic behaviour is undemocratically perceived as matching rather than clashing. The cultural politics of liquid modernity belong to an ephemeral culture, an individualist society, a consumerist politics and a commodifying system. This is palpable in the fragmentation of cultural citizenship facades and lack of sustenance in the performance of non-committing acts.

Shopping is an act which is subject to ritual, but also to the lack of commitment. While fair trade might be the primary option in the ethical choices of consumers in the UK, there is no guarantee that the ritual of fair trade consumption will not wane if the structural facilitation of the fair trade market alters its ways.

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For instance, the mainstreaming of the fair trade market was accelerated by the stronger involvement of corporate agents from manufacturers to distributors and the promotional culture of fair trade has been heavily influenced by these cf. Lekakis, The placing of ethical products on supermarket shelves has enlarged the market capacity of fair trade, but also enveloped ethics in a jungle of other products. It would appear that while availability of fair trade products underscores the consumer habits of ethical consumers, it does not necessarily translate into a solid, ritualised activity.

A critique of the politics of fair trade requires an interrogation of the notion of individualisation. As a movement which prioritises individual forms of participation namely consumption fair trade can be susceptible to a neoliberal mentality. Additionally, while it aims to contest the market fundamentalism of a system of global trade, it softens the antagonism between free trade and fair trade by attempting to create a pedagogical relationship where the second teaches the first Lamb, while it underscores the political agency of the consumer rather than emphasising the consumer agency of the citizen; in this way, there is a transference of priority from the citizen to the consumer.

By mobilising individualities through the market, there is little guarantee of the prioritisation of moral, social and environmental standards over profit. Increasingly, more citizens seek opportunities and structures to express themselves politically. Solid formats of political engagement, while present, can be opted out of; as Katherine pointed out,.

One of the arenas where citizens choose to do so is the market, where consumer capitalism appears to allow and enable them to make political claims. Dispersion of politics is typical of the conditions of liquid modernity, where project-type thinking, such as setting the task to purchase fair trade at the next shopping trip, penetrates all forms of social life. The project-type ethical thinking that matches the shopping list mentality of the consumer corresponds directly to the commodification of fair trade politics cf.

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  7. The politics of fair trade consumption is, above all, a consumerist politics belonging to a commodifying system avid for market performance and prominence, in the sense that it creates a market as well as serves it. Bauman 89 writes:. I take this as one definition of banality pertaining to the politics of consumption. But while Bauman expresses this in the pejorative sense, I also consider superficiality to be a parameter of banality in the sense of ephemeral, on-the-surface connection in light of liquid modernity. There is relevance here between the banality permeating national belonging and cosmopolitan belonging with regards to the politics of fair trade consumption.

    Beck posits that banal cosmopolitanism. I would argue that there is a specific type of banality attached to fair trade consumption and the political claims which it connotes. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Publishing With Us. Book Authors Journal Authors. Buy eBook. Buy Hardcover. Buy Softcover. FAQ Policy. About this book The world of trade is changing rapidly, from the 'rise of the South' to the growth of unconventional projects like fair trade and carbon trading.

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