Dr Kelle Howson is a postdoctoral researcher on the Fairwork project at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Her background is in international development, globalisation and agriculture. Her research has examined the impact of ethical certification on power and governance in global agro-food networks. She received a PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand in 2018. Her PhD thesis explored ethical certification and post-apartheid transformation in the South African wine industry, developing the concept of ethical value networks (EVeNs) to assess the extent to which certifications like Fairtrade contributed to more even development outcomes.

She also holds a Masters of Development Studies from Victoria University of Wellington, and her masters thesis examined the livelihood impact of Fairtrade certification for a coffee cooperative in Timor-Leste.

Her current work with the Fairwork Foundation explores and aims to improve labour standards for platform workers in South Africa. Building on her background in certification studies, Kelle is interested in the potential of interventions aimed at harnessing reflexive consumer power to improve working conditions.

Prior to taking up her current position Kelle served as a Senior Researcher in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Leader’s Office in the New Zealand Parliament.

Research Interest

International development, globalisation, ethical certification, labour geographies, digital labour, Fairtrade, ethical value networks.

Position held at the OII

  • Postdoctoral Researcher, October 2019 –


  • Howson, K., Murray, W.E. and Overton, J. (2019) "Certified Utopia: Ethical branding and the wine industry of South Africa" In: Making New Worlds: The utopian potentials of wine and terroir Dutton, J. and Howland, P.J. (eds.). Routledge.

Journal articles


  • du Toit, D., FREDMAN, S., Bhatia, G., Cherupara-Vaddekkethil, A., Osiki, A., GRAHAM, M. and Howson, K. Code of Good Practice for the Regulation of Platform Work in South Africa. Fairwork.

Internet publications

  • Howson, K., GRAHAM, M. and KATTA, S. (2019) Platform workers, the future of work and Britain’s election. Media@LSE.
  • Howson, K. and Slader, S. New Zealand’s Abortion Law Reform. Oxford Human Rights Hub.





Integrity Statement

I am currently a researcher on the Fairwork Project, which is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Economic and Social Research Council through the Global Challenges Research Fund (ES/S00081X/1).  In the past five years, my work has been financially supported by New Zealand taxpayers, the New Zealand Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Fund, and the New Zealand Aid Programme.