Decaf empowerment? Post-Washington Consensus development policy, fair trade and Kenya's coffee industry

  • Zoë Pflaeger


There has been much debate surrounding the shift in development policy towards the Post-Washington Consensus and its associated Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. This article seeks to engage critically with and further this literature by considering the concept of empowerment and its role within this consensus through an examination of development policy aimed at farmer empowerment in Kenya. This is investigated with a focus upon coffee producers in the context of Kenya's coffee reforms and the restructuring of the global coffee industry. While acknowledging the limitations of the dominant approach, exacerbated in the African context due to a problematic interpretation of the African state, it is argued that analyses of empowerment should also consider the opportunities for its re-politicisation. Drawing upon Gramscian thought, this article suggests that fair trade initiatives have the potential to offer an alternative approach to farmer empowerment more capable of challenging the concentration of power among roasters and buyers that has taken place within the coffee industry.


coffee empowerment fair trade Kenya Post-Washington Consensus World Bank 



I am very grateful to Magnus Ryner, Jill Steans, and the editors and anonymous reviewers at JIRD for detailed comments and advice on earlier versions of this article.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zoë Pflaeger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of International RelationsUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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