Children's work in the family : a sociological study of Indian children in Coventry (UK) and Lucknow (India)
This is a sociological study of children's work in Indian families based on research carried out in Coventry (UK) and Lucknow (India). The data was gathered through unstructured and in-depth interviews of children from 10 Indian families in Coventry and 10 Indian families in Lucknow who run small-scale retailing businesses in each city. The research questions the assumptions of the existing literature on children's work in the family, where it is considered as a useful and beneficial task, and something that children ought to learn. Contrary to this understanding which marginalises the importance of children's work in the family, the evidence presented in this thesis demonstrates that children's work in the family is a specific part of their agency, which helps them to construct and reconstruct their own childhood and maintain their family's social order. It is the contention of the thesis that children's domestic activities are to be considered as meaningful 'work' that is not always oriented toward (future) goals of socialization, but rather toward the structuring of social relationships between children and adults. The data shows that although there is a slight difference in the expression of children's agency in Coventry and Lucknow due to different socio-cultural contexts, children's active involvement in housework and shop-work in both cities places them within the division of domestic labour. In particular, children's experiences in family businesses not only demonstrate them to be socially and economically useful members of their families, it also provides them with an opportunity to realise their potential.