Fair trade : market exchange against and within the market
The article presents the project and practices of fair trade in light of Max Weber’s opposition between formal and substantive rationality. Promoters of fair trade share the purpose of substantively rationalizing the market (paying a « fair price », working with « small producers », knowing the « producers behind the products »). However, tensions make themselves felt as soon as they also try to increase their sales and take on their competitors. Observation of various fair trade product categories shows that, in keeping with Weber’s analysis, substantive rationality becomes increasingly difficult to apply as this form of trade comes to participate more fully in the market order.