Béatrice Robic : Another bumpy road to emancipation: the plight of children juggling school and work in England between 1870 and 1914

24 avril 2024 – 17h-19H.

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Le discutant sera Yann Béliard (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Abstract

In late nineteenth century and early twentieth century England and Wales, the slow but irresistible spread of universal elementary education up to the age of fourteen posed a serious challenge to many employers and working-class households. This indeed was a moment when the demand for and supply of child workers were strong in all the sectors of the economy. In fact, so imperious was the call of labour in some trades and places that, in order to cushion the blow, special dispensations were granted by the State from the outset, allowing parents to withdraw their children from school for good long before they had completed their education journey. Most early school-leavers then would enter the labour market as full-time workers. Moreover, throughout the period under study, it remained legal to employ schoolchildren, either out of school hours, regardless of their age, or during half of a school’s yearly sessions, under what was known as the “half-time system”, provided certain conditions were met.

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