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.
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The term ‘Washington Consensus’ was originally coined by John Williamson in 1990 to ‘refer to the lowest common denominator of policy advice being addressed by the Washington-based institutions to Latin American countries as of 1989’ (Williamson 2000: 251). However, it has come to represent a narrower set of policies that emphasise liberalisation and the importance of a minimal role for the state. A key moment in the move to a ‘Post-Washington Consensus’ was Stiglitz's WIDER lecture in 1998, in which he sought to establish a new agenda for economic development that recognised the role of governments in making markets work effectively and the need to broaden the goals of development (Stiglitz 1998; see also Fine et al. 2001).
The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation that licenses use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in the UK and is the UK Member of Fairtrade International.
This literature is related to the writings of the sociologist Max Weber, in which he established three ideal types of authority: legal, traditional and charismatic. The term ‘patrimonialism’ is associated with the traditional type, under which ‘obedience is owed not to enacted rules but to the person who occupies a position of authority by tradition’ (cited in Erdmann and Engel 2007: 97).
This has recently been abbreviated to Fairtrade International in January 2011.
For conventional washed Arabica coffee, at the time of this research, a minimum price of 125 US cents per pound was guaranteed and an additional premium of 10 US cents per pound was paid when the New York price was above the minimum. The minimum price has subsequently risen to 140 US cents per pound and the premium to 20 US cents per pound in March 2011.
Some of the interviewees’ names have been withheld to protect confidentiality.
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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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Pflaeger, Z. Decaf empowerment? Post-Washington Consensus development policy, fair trade and Kenya's coffee industry. J Int Relat Dev 16, 331–357 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1057/jird.2012.17
- fair trade
- Post-Washington Consensus
- World Bank