The recognition that the majority of British children are involved in paid employment at some time before the minimum school leaving age has not been accompanied by comparable analytical advances. Large numbers work in areas beyond those traditionally identified with 'children's work' and are to be found in marginal, flexible, service sector jobs, defined by unskilled and low paid manual labour. The efforts of US researchers to link 'adolescent work' to child development and socialisation merely pathologises children's involvement in work, while the greater sensitivity of British researchers to the possible connections between work and changes to children's social lives provides only limited insight. It is demonstrated here that children's involvement in work is closely related to employers' increased demand for part-time student labour and that children are making themselves available for work in response to both the changing distribution of family income and the commodification of their leisure time
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