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A case study in compromise: The Green & Black’s brand of ethical chocolate

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Since the early 1990s, numerous corporations have signaled their social responsibility by marketing goods and services in ostensibly ethical terms. This phenomenon rests on the discourse of ethical consumption. The practice is predicated on consumers’ interest in such matters, which are often of a humanitarian or environmentalist nature. In turn, consumers can either reward brands and businesses that are similarly inclined, or punish those that are not. This article considers both the efficacy and politics of such activity through the Green & Black’s brand of organic, Fairtrade chocolate. This was the first Fairtrade product sold in the United Kingdom. The nuanced dynamics of the Green & Black’s brand though underline the necessary compromise of ethical consumption, and reflect a complex grid of contingent ideals and institutionalized hurdles. This article shows how, in articulating a popularly agreeable narrative, the brand’s ethics involves an inherent trade between quantitative gains at a qualitative cost.
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Keywords: Fairtrade; Green & Black’s; chocolate; ethical consumption; organic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Macquarie University

Publication date: 2011-02-16

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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