• Introducing Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold: An attempt to reconfigure the social identity of a substance

Oakley, Peter, 2015, Book Section, Introducing Fairtrade and Fairmined Gold: An attempt to reconfigure the social identity of a substance In: Drazin, Adam and Kuechler, Susanne, (eds.) The Social Life of Materials. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781472592668

Abstract or Description:

This chapter considers the multifaceted social identity of a particular substance – gold – and how this identity is defended by groups, institutions and existing material culture in the face of challenges to its validity. This will be done through a case study of the rise and demise of a ‘new material’, Fairtrade and Fairmined (FT/FM) gold, created in an attempt to challenge the status quo. Campaigners’ concerted attempts to increase the multivalence of gold and the results will be considered using the analytical tool of complexity , an approach that helps explain how specific masses of gold can be considered and treated as different yet identical.

While the focus here is a specific material, the story of FT/FM gold has much wider implications. It exposes how dominant abstract understandings of what a particular substance is, among the specialists who work with it on a daily basis and the wider population, are shielded by practices and assemblages of objects not created to be, or generally considered as, protective. It also shows how these interlock to form a pervasive network. While influence or agency is not equally distributed across this network, there is no single dominant source, a feature that helps frustrate attempts at change. The case study therefore offers a theoretical template for researchers encountering similar, potentially protective systems.

Subjects: Other > Social studies > L600 Anthropology > L610 Social and Cultural Anthropology
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W720 Metal Crafts > W721 Silversmithing/Goldsmithing
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 10 May 2016 16:15
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2020 17:02
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1776
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