“Child labour” and children’s lives – Michael Bourdillon

Presentation to workshop on “Exploring Childhood Studies” at the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth at the University of Sheffield, 20 January 2016
There is tension between two aspects of children’s work: work is a fundamental human and social activity, and therefore has a place in children’s lives and development; on the other hand, work demanded of children can be abusive, damaging their physical, social and cognitive development. The task of identifying the benefits and harm deriving from children’s work, particularly in the global South, is obstructed by widespread use of a particular concept of “child labour” that conflates harmful work with a minimum age for employment. The presentation uses recent documents to show how this conflation continues to interfere with understanding children’s lives and has consequences in intervention that are detrimental to children’s interests and development.

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