Delicious Peace Coffee: Marketing Community in Uganda

Document Type



Politics (Scripps)

Publication Date



Economics | Economic Theory | International and Area Studies | International Economics


This article asserts the economic relevancy of human connectedness and community. It argues that if the goal of economics is to maximize human happiness, then approaches that directly address social phenomena and community building, rather than utility and income maximization by individual economic actors, are more promising and indeed “rational.” The fair trade movement, insofar as it supports community-based cooperatives, can play an important role in this process. However, the real story behind successful cooperatives is often more about the nature of the rural “peasant” community that supports it. Viewing economic decision making through the lens of the Mirembe Kawomera coffee cooperative in Uganda reveals a market that is socially embedded in a community rich in social capital, or more appropriately social productive power of labor, rather than one that constitutes a separate market sphere. When economic incentives encompass a more holistic set of costs and benefits, even those that may be less tangible, economic activity and strong community tend to be mutually reinforcing.

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© 2012 Union for Radical Political Economics