The purpose of this paper is to examine the theory, policy and practice of child labour in Latin America. Interventions to reduce child labour are more likely to be successful if they are locally‐driven, supported by legislation and based on theoretical understandings of childhood that reflect the realities and needs of the children, families and communities whose lives they aim to improve.
Sociological and anthropological discourses on children's life worlds are reviewed to situate changes in our understanding of child labour. These theoretical developments are then discussed in the light of changing international legislation, such as ILO's convention 182. Recent statistics suggest a trend for declining child labour and we study the link between statistics, theoretical and legislative positions.
The ILO's 2006 child labour statistics and examples of policies in Latin America support the hypothesis that theoretical developments in the concept of childhood have influenced successful interventions aimed at its reduction. This theory‐policy‐practice partnership appears to have been a catalyst for the development of successful “government–private‐enterprise – civil society” programmes to reduce child labour.
Although these multi‐sectorial strategies have been successful in Latin America, further research is needed to see whether similar policies and interventions can be repeated in other regions.
The paper is original in its linking of theory, policy and practice in the context of recent statistics and programmes at reducing child labour in Latin America.
Gamlin, J. and Pastor, M. (2009), "Child labour in Latin America: theory, policy, practice", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 29 No. 3/4, pp. 118-129. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330910947499Download as .RIS
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