A Framing Theory And Discourse Analytic Study Of The Child Labour Policy Debate

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
1945147 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2021
Description Key Findings:
As part of the ESRC studentship I undertook a dissertation as part fulfilment of the MSc in Social Science Research Methods, entitled: 'Clarifying the Terminology Used in the International Child Labour Law Framework: A Discourse Analysis and Framing Theory Review of Official and Academic Child Labour Literature.
The study focused on published literature from key protagonists to the debate on child labour, as brought to light in the open letter, and investigates the overlapping and opposing discourses that have arisen. Stratified random samples were taken of published literature from the ILO and members of the academic community regarding child labour. These were analysed using a combination of discourse analysis and frame theory to clarify the arguments made about child labour policy and its potential solutions.
The results of the study demonstrated that despite some agreements in relation to the risk of harm and poverty in child labour, deep-seated differences persist between the two groups. These were especially apparent in relation to the role of culture, education and child opinion in the quest for reform.

Objectives Achieved through the Dissertation Study:
• Provided a background to child labour, the law governing it and the debate that has arisen and the response to the practice.
• Outlined the theoretical approach that has been utilised to analyse the child labour debate and the rationale for using a hybrid methodology.
• Research design was covered by outlining the sampling process for both parties to the debate.
• The results section reviewed the trends observed in the analysis, focusing on the arguments used by both sides under six broad categories or 'pillars'.
• Considered the implications of the findings of this research alongside potential avenues for further study, projected towards the study undertaken as part of the PhD thesis.
Exploitation Route Significant Achievements of the Dissertation Study
A variety of perspectives on child labour have been covered in prior research. However, the differences that were found between the two sides in this paper are due to the unique methodological approach employed. Having drawn the main features from the sampled papers on both sides of the debate into the discussion of the pillars, the respective arguments from adaptive and abolitionist sides have been broken down and some clear features of the disagreement have emerged.
Although there is some debate as to the extent and response that should be made on child labour, the scope for children to be injured in the commission of work has a common consensus. Similarly there is a broad agreement that economic hardship is a significant determining factor on the choices made by families and the children themselves regarding their work. However, there are different policy prescriptions as to how to remedy this from both the ILO and adaptive academic sources.
Disagreement between adaptive and abolitionist viewpoints arose from the role of culture in determining whether it is proper for a child to work, and the degree to which children can contemporaneously work and attend school. These key frictions were brought into stark relief by researching the sampled material.
Additionally, an emergent discourse from the children's rights movement was found, which focused on children's right to choose to work. The accepted wisdom from broader children's rights discourses have been pulled into child labour discussions by 'adaptive' proponents by a process of 'master frame alignment'. Consequently, several 'adaptive' academics have used the opinions of children regarding the ability, or right to work, thus invoking a rights discourse into the child labour discussion.
By dissecting the theoretical and ideological positions of both sides of the debate, areas of common ground and disagreement have emerged. Furthermore, in areas of discord, oppositional arguments and the way that language is levied towards policymaking ends have been exposed. The potential explanations for the diametric views have been explored throughout the discussion of the 'thematic pillars'.
Sectors Other