Child labour in the social structure.
The objectives of this thesis have been to evaluate the existing conceptions
of child labour, obtain empirical data on its extent in Clydeside, Scotland
and explain why working children are located within a particular structured
arena of the labour market. In Part 1 the commonsense and theoretical
conceptions of child labour are outlined and shown to be both inadequate and
Part 2 presents original evidence gathered from the Clydeside region and
contrasts it with existing material gathered from London and the South-East
of England. This demonstrates that child labour is an exploitative practice
which occurs throughout Britain. Children's jobs tend to be poorly paid,
gender segregated and potentially harmful to their health and safety.
Further, the types of jobs they perform and the number working in contrasting
economic regions of Britain are shown to be similar, suggesting there is a
relatively constant amount and type of work available to children across the
labour market in Britain.
Part 3 proceeds to offer an alternative explanation for the present form of
children's work practice. By locating both change and continuity in
children's work experience throughout the capitalist epoch, it is suggested
that the period circa 1880-1920 was crucial in reshaping children's labour
market experiences. During this period changes in the economy, state
activity, the family and the acceptance, by the working class, of the ideology
of childhood, came together to restructure children's dominant social
experiences. As a result of these changes in the social structure, children's
work became marginalised to a particular type of job and work experience
categorised as 'out of school' employment. This was viewed as legitimate for
children because it could be combined with schooling, reinforced their
subordinate position within the age hierarchy and, at the same time, allowed
them to gain the beneficial and disciplinary effects of paid work.