Week 5: Children and youth as producers and consumers
I/ Children and work
II/ Young people and work in Canada
III/ Commodification of childhood
IV/ Children as consumers
-Idealized childhood is complicated by processes of production (work) and consumption.
-There are diverse and culturally specific distinctions between what is considered acceptable
and unacceptable work for children.
-Children are consumers, and childhood itself is commodified.
I/ Children and work
What are some kinds of work that young people do that you feel okay about? Why?
What are some kinds that you feel uncomfortable with? Why?
A) Childhood outside market relations - review
-Public (market, workplace)/private(home) spheres
o Children should be kept safe in the private sphere (at home in a protected safe
o Women as caretakers should also be kept in a protected environment
-Other discourses of childhood and adolescence
o There are other kinds of ways of thinking about childhood that aren't so separate
from the public sector -children viewed as developing or in the present and they need
to be contributing and growing into society now.
B) Acceptable child work?
o Children are learning stuff, learning not just skills but also seen as a rite of
-Link to training
o Learning skills
-Link to idea of rite of passage
o Learning the difficulties of work
As vital contribution…
o Strong belief that young people do need to work
o Work within the home that parents find acceptable for children to do
-Labour within families
o Helping at a family run business, helping to support the family -Paid work
o In some families it is vital for children to do paid work to support the well-being of
-Child as being?
o This work can be seen as acceptable as long as it doesn’t interfere with the
"child-hood being" -i.e. their education.
Link to innocence, protection and becoming
o An on going relationship between work vs school…how much is school taking
away from work, how much is work taking away from people going to school
1. Legislated provincially
o For example, in Ontario you have to be in school on school days, employers
cannot employ someone during school day hours. School comes first work comes
-Conditions of work
o For example, some kinds of work have different age restrictions (e.g. in a mine
you have to be 18)
o For example, in Newbrunswick you cannot employ someone under age in a
position where their morality and development is endangered
-Exceptions: e.g. agriculture, babysitting
o The kinds of work that are in that "fuzzy zone"
Overall in Canada we are inconsistent at times, but we are consistent with education, safety,
and terms of development.
2) Within UN CRC
Article 32.1 States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic
exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the
child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or
Article 28: Right to education
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education… [and]
make them available and accessible to every child.
3) “Worst case” labour
E.g. hazardous work: estimated 115 million children worldwide
o Work that endangers ones safety
E.g. child soldiering
-Article 38.2 States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have
not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities. -Article 38.3 States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the
age of fifteen years into their armed forces...
-And the Optional Protocol increases this provision to age 18.
-estimated 300 000 worldwide
o Children are often sucked into soldiering because they are seen as obedient and
o Also children are targeted once an armies forces have deteriorated.
Article 34: States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and
sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national,
bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
Challenges to addressing worst case labour
-How old is a child?