Historiography of child labour has often been characterized by strong biases, leading to an overemphasis on the aberrations of factory work as well as to the stereotyping of child work, with industrializing England as the dominant model. This collection of articles offers a global perspective, including both national and comparative case studies which cover all continents and thus overcomes such biases in child labour history. It focuses on various sectors of the economy: industrial work is highlighted and so are the important activities of children in agriculture. Furthermore, Child Labour’s Global Past, 1650-2000 is intended to give a long-term historical perspective, in covering the importance of children’s work in pre-industrial and industrial societies, both in colonial and non- or post-colonial settings.
A long-term global approach to the history of child labour is desirable. As child labour was – and still is – a social phenomenon which can only be properly understood in its historical context, the varying historical experiences over the world can not only enlighten us about the specific function of child labour, but also about its causes, and therewith about possible solutions of child labour today.