CfP: Children at Work (session at the III ELHN Conference)

Call for papers, deadline 25 September 2018

for the 3rd Conference of the European Labour History Network (ELHN)
19-21 September 2019 in Amsterdam

Working group: Labour and Family Economy
Organizers: Jesús Agua de la Rosa, Martín Iturralde, Maria Papathanassiou

Children’s work or labour (the latter term used in English to address exploitative forms of child work) during the industrial revolution in Europe, and particularly in factories, has attracted social and economic historians’ interest early on. Meanwhile, especially after the 1990s, research has been conducted on child work in domestic industry as well as outside the context of industrialization and on other than industrial forms of child work (agricultural labour, street selling, household chores, etc.).
The work of children (and underage youth) has been an integral part of working class urban as well as rural, of peasant, artisan or retailers’ household economies. It has also been an integral part of children’s experiences and socialization processes, expressing and affecting family dynamics and interpersonal relations.
The aim of the session(s) is to explore child work from the perspective of its relation to the household and household economy – but also, for comparative purposes, from the perspective of its non relation to them, since many children spent their childhood or parts of it in other social environments.

Among other, we would like to address the following interrelated topics and/or questions:
-    The ways in which children contributed to household economy: industrial – non industrial forms of child labour, wage and non wage labour, economic activities on the margins of formal economy and work (illegal street selling, begging).
-    Work organization and child work. Did specific forms of work organization favour children’s employment more than others? (for example the employment of family groups in families and workshops).
-    Children working in households other than their families of origin (f.e. as rural servants  peasant households or apprentices in workshops).
-    The connection of child work to subsistence economy and pluriactivity in rural as well as urban regions. How far and in what ways did subsistence economy and pluriactivity go hand in hand with child work?
-    Child work and gender division of labour: How far was child work gender specific and how did gender interact with age? What were the effects of gender division of labour within the household and in the society at large on child work, its forms and time demand?
-    Forced labour: Child slavery, Child forced labour in charitable institutions, etc.
-    The public debates (and thus also discourses) in favour or against children’s employment pointing to its importance for the family economy or its detrimental effects on the family.
-    The interaction between schooling or compulsory school attendance and the demands for children to work at home or be employed outside home.
-    The interaction between household economy and local/regional/ national or global economy from the perspective of child work. In what ways were household economies affected by broader economic developments and how far did this affect children’s work and lives?
-    Children’s experiences in regard to work / children’s agency and its limits.
Within this context, we will reflect on broader questions, such as the influence of capitalist development on child work or the changing content, meanings and duration of childhood over time and space.

Abstracts are welcome – they should be no longer than 300 words and followed by a short CV. Abstracts should be sent to:

The deadline for proposals is September 25, 2018.