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Children’s educational labour as slave labour

Child Labour in Global Society

ISBN: 978-1-78350-779-5, eISBN: 978-1-78350-780-1

ISSN: 1537-4661

Publication date: 11 June 2014


This chapter is about the modern, Western education system as an economic system of production on behalf of the capitalist mode of production (CMP) and globalization towards a single, global social space around market capitalism, liberal democracy and individualism.

The schooling process is above all an economic process, within which educational labour is performed, and through which the education system operates in an integrated fashion with the (external) economic system.

It is mainly through children’s compulsory educational labour that modern schooling plays a part in the production of labour power, supplies productive (paid) employment within the CMP, meets ‘corporate economic imperatives’, supports ‘the expansion of global corporate power’ and facilitates globalization.

What children receive in exchange for their appropriated and consumed labour power within the education system are not payments of the kind enjoyed by adults in the external economy, but instead merely a promise – the promise enshrined in the Western education industry paradigm.

In modern societies, young people, like chattel slaves, are compulsorily prevented from freely exchanging their labour power on the labour market while being compulsorily required to perform educational labour through a process in which their labour power is consumed and reproduced, and only at the end of which as adults they can freely (like freed slaves) enter the labour market to exchange their labour power.

This compulsory dispossession, exploitation and consumption of labour power reflects and reinforces the power distribution between children and adults in modern societies, doing so in a way resembling that between chattel slaves and their owners.



(2014), "Children’s educational labour as slave labour", Child Labour in Global Society (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 107-147.



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