© 2018

Anthropological Perspectives on Children as Helpers, Workers, Artisans, and Laborers


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. David F. Lancy
    Pages 1-30
  3. David F. Lancy
    Pages 31-58
  4. David F. Lancy
    Pages 59-84
  5. David F. Lancy
    Pages 85-129
  6. David F. Lancy
    Pages 131-158
  7. David F. Lancy
    Pages 159-187
  8. David F. Lancy
    Pages 189-212
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 237-245

About this book


Within academia, the study of childhood has been dominated by a mono-cultural or WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) perspective. However, a contrasting and more varied perspective is emerging within the field of anthropology. So, while the phenomenon of children as workers is ephemeral in WEIRD societies and in the literature on child development, there is ample cross-cultural and historical evidence of children making vital contributions to the family economy. Children’s “labor” is of great interest to researchers but it is treated as extra-cultural—an aberration that must be controlled. Work as a central component in children’s lives, development, and identity goes unappreciated. This book aims to rectify that omission by surveying and synthesizing a very robust corpus of material. Two prominent themes receive particular emphasis: the processes involved in learning to work, and the interaction between ontogeny and children’s roles as workers.


Adolescence Labor Laws Agriculture Gender Differences School Education

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.AnthropologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

About the authors

David F. Lancy is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Utah State University, USA.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Anthropological Perspectives on Children as Helpers, Workers, Artisans, and Laborers
  • Authors David F. Lancy
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies on the Anthropology of Childhood and Youth
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies on the Anthropology of Childhood and Youth
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, New York
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-53353-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-70973-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-53351-7
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 245
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Social Anthropology
    Sociology of Family, Youth and Aging
    Childhood, Adolescence and Society
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Anthropological Perspectives on Children as Helpers, Workers, Artisans, and Laborers is a superbly written, well-researched, and ethnographically grounded text that is easy to follow and clear with its examples. It is ideal for entry-level undergraduates studying the anthropology of work, play, kinship, and socialization as well as for courses in labor and childhood studies.” (Jennifer E. Shaw, Anthropology of Work Review, Vol. 41 (2), 2020)

“Lancy draws on a wide corpus of literature and presents a variety of valuable insights into children’s work, and their potential to learn from this work, across societies and geographical contexts. … This volume’s synthesis of anthropological insights into children’s work and its changing forms across cultures and livelihoods, emphasising children’s ingenuity, skills and ability to pursue their own learning, is commendable.” (Gemma Pearson, Children's Geographies, Vol. 17 (5), 2019)

“Lancy’s comprehensive overview highlights the importance of anthropological research for understanding cultural variation in children’s socialization and work activities. … this volume is a welcome and invaluable contribution to anthropological scholarship on childhood.” (Wendy Klein, American Anthropologist, Vol. 120 (3), 2018)