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Durham e-Theses
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Constructing the child work experiences: relational processes among the children of Monte Alban, Mexico

Rodríguez-Cazares, Laura Miriam (2006) Constructing the child work experiences: relational processes among the children of Monte Alban, Mexico. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



It is a well-known fact that children in non-western societies make an important contribution to their families' survival. This thesis examines the characteristics of working children in a Mexican urban community, contributing to childhood studies that claim that children can be regarded in their own right. It argues that children are active agents in participating and constructing their working experiences through daily relationships. As it is expected by society, working children adapt to the needs and values of their local community when engaging in productive activities. However, this also allows them to reinterpret and negotiate their status within their society. By analysing the ethnographic material collected during fieldwork in a Mexican shanty town, this study examines from an integral approach, the notions children have of work, family and relationships in participating in daily survival. Everyday activities and testimonies were recorded using observant participation, structured, semi-structured and informal interviews, in domestic and non-domestic places. Children of both genders, between the ages of 8 and 16 years, as well as other relatives and friends, were interviewed in order to understand how children perceive and negotiate their place within the household and beyond it. Children's daily endeavours and group discussions were recorded so as to reconstruct children's and adults' life histories, to compare working experiences of diverse generations and to trace their social networks. The main key finding is that working children in Oaxaca occupy a dynamic role in participating in family survival. This allows them to create a set of experiences and to compare them to individuals of their own and other generations. Hence, the proposal adds to the approach that children are not passive subjects, but active agents, with critical points of view, elaborating their own experiences. This study also deduces children are able to express their active role when establishing relationships on their own initiative, i.e., by strengthening existing social networks or creating their own, or by consolidating peers' and friends' groups. In this sense, the children of this study are involved in a series of complex networks of relationships. It is through their relationships children integrate and shape their own knowledge, while participating in household survival and negotiating the demands of their households and local society. Thus, children's working experiences are not always restrictive or compelling. According to this thesis' findings, children can creatively construct them, expressing a variety of views, which count from positive, negative, and ambivalent.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2006
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:56

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