commodity chains – networks of labor and production processes that originate in the extraction or production of raw materials. The end result is the delivery and consumption of a finished commodity.
Following the global flow of commodities reveals how connections within and among regions cause environmental and social changes but also forges new regional relationships. Linkages can leave behind massive transformations to the environment and social processes, but these linkages also encourage increasingly tight global connections that may open the door to more sustainable ways of managing the environment.
You will choose a commodity, investigate the process of production and consumption, and trace these networks through various places and as it moves across space. The chain can be understood as made up of multiple nodes where specific activities happen, linked through various types of transactions. You will:
identify various activities (at least five) that happen in the production and consumption of your commodity
(For my specific topic, COFFEE, I would like these 5 topics to include Coffee Production, Exportation, Importers, Roasting, and lastly Retail
locate and map places where each of these activities typically happens (this can be displayed in one or several maps)
critically investigate* social and environmental impacts of each of these activities (e.g. companies involved, typical wages paid, working conditions, pollution, transportation, consumer price, profits, etc.)
*: By critical investigation, you must clearly explain and analyze the why and how of your subject of focus, rather than just describe who, when, where, and what. Your commodity can be anything from bananas to gasoline, to iPhones, to human trafficking, or any other commodity of your choosing. You might choose to explore different types of production processes (e.g. conventional production, fair trade, organic). It may be helpful to think of how your commodity might pass through different sectors of the economy (e.g. primary – farmers, quaternary – design). Use the Internet, your textbook, class resources, print sources, etc. to research your commodity. Be sure to include at least one academic resource (such as an academic journal article). Only use Wikipedia or other sources as a source to identify other, more reputable sources—that is, Wikipedia should not be used as a reference/citation. Use professional language. Cite all your sources (including the textbook if you use it). Provide in-text citations and be sure to provide a bibliography list at the end of your assignment. Use a proper citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).
Also, be sure to “consider the source.” If, for example, your commodity is Nike shoes, be mindful of the information you might draw from Nike’s own corporate propaganda–of course, Nike is going to say that their factories have ethical working conditions! What do other sources say about this?
Format: 6-7 page double-spaced paper (including maps and other figures). First, provide an introduction to your chosen commodity (its importance, uses, why you chose it, etc.), then devote approximately a page (including a map and other images if applicable) to each of the five stages of production. Conclude with your takeaways, reactions, and interesting findings.
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