International Standards for Grassroots Democracy? A Case Study of a Guatemalan Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative.

Benjamin Goldstein : Interdisciplinary Studies Field

Mentor: Professor Louise Fortmann, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

The recent growth of the Fair Trade coffee niche market in the United States suggests that consumers are beginning to concern themselves with the social conditions under which their coffee was produced. Fair Trade coffee consumers accept that the Generic Fairtrade Standards established by the International Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) provide certain de jure guarantees regarding production conditions. Yet what is the de facto situation within the coffee cooperatives? Benjamin will travel to a Fair Trade certified coffee cooperative in Guatemala this summer to investigate the grassroots application of the Standards section entitled Democracy, Participation and Transparency. Benjamin will employ a comparative analysis of the cooperative over time, focusing on pre/post FLO certification. Through extensive interviews and data collection, Benjamin intends to establish the effectiveness of international autocratic standards in the development and regulation of grassroots democracy.