American Anthropological Association
In spite of the fact that the very earliest ethnographers who paid any attention to children took note of the “precocity” displayed by children in both learning the household (e.g., caring for a younger sibling) and subsistence (harvesting and processing grain), tasks characteristic of the societies under investigation, the first synthesis and cross-cultural compilation of this large body of descriptive material is quite recent. This first, introductory, article in this collection reviews those efforts to systematize the study of children’s work and leads the reader through a catalog of the major conclusions or generalizations that have emerged from this analysis. To take a single example, the ethnographic record shows clearly that the work children do, whether differentiated by age, gender, or competence, serves, in large part, to shape their emerging identity. The Introduction then proceeds to forecast the following three articles, all of which advance significantly beyond our current understandings. A finer-grained analysis reveals significant cross-cultural variation around many of the generalizations made earlier regarding how children become helpers and workers.
Lancy, David F., "New Studies of Children’s Work, Acquisition of Critical Skills, and Contribution to the Domestic Economy" (2016). Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology Faculty Publications. Paper 618.