• United States never signed the ERC so child labor could still be
• Sustained under-aged employment - deﬁnes child labor.
◦ Saying "all child labor is bad" is a very totalizer statement.
‣ Should make the distinction between harmful child labor and child
work that is not exploitative and not hazardous - it may in fact let
children feel empowered.
‣ So we should not see child work as a bad thing necessarily. Should
have a type of continuum.
• Historically, child work was viewed as a contribution to the family
• Cunningham says we should get away from that moralistic perspective
to understand this a bit better.
• With the industrialize revolution we get these harmful exploits of child
labor, which in turn emerges the Western anti-child labor discourse.
◦ It does not make the distinction between good and bad child work: all
child labor is bad.
◦ Child labor discourse focuses on the third world and away from the
‣ Important not to fall into focus of the third world and forget to focus
on the ﬁrst world.
◦ The displacement and global condensation lead us to an
understanding that were dealing with symptoms of repression.
• The whole issue of child labor is tied to child rights. However child labor
is old, children always worked. While children's rights is a very recent
• While taking place in the third world, child labor is very much connected
to the ﬁrst worlds. Companies do not ensure health, safety, or dignity for
the people (children) working for our consumption.
Positive elements of child work
• Child empowerment, good for child economy.
History of child labor in the west.
• History of Partners in family economy.
◦ Children seen as partners in the household economy where they were
expected to participate.
◦ Starts all the way from hunting, gathering, breeding.
• Once the industrial revolution comes in, that familial relation goes away.
Gets into industrial employment. possible until today.
In England, around the 1920's, child labor was large in the mining area,
bringing the worst conditions. 16 hour day.
• In 1832, Marx came out with the 10 hour bill.
Cunningham tries to break thomsons moral discourse. Hgc offers ﬁve
points in the history of child labor.