Colonisation of Children's Work

Jens Qvortrup, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

This paper argues against the conventional wisdom, that children should have lost their usefulness in the transition to industrial society. Modern schooling is rather understood as a continuation of children's organic participation in activities deemed necessary in any mode of production, a view affirmed by a concomitant historical shift from manual to mental child work. This perception of children's school work logically entails that children remain a part of a societal division of labour and therefore legitimate claims makers on societal resources as well as a fundamental economic responsibility on the side of the public. A practical realisation of this insight would (1) alleviate parents' economic burdens and children's relative poverty risks, (2) create incentives to fertility increases and hence (3) in the long run prepare for solving the pending pension crisis. In this way a reestablishment of a lost intergenerational balance might come about.

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Presented in Session 109: Child Work and Schooling II