This study has analysed the phenomenon of school-youth employment from a schoolyouth's perspective, within its relational context of the Dutch society, and within relation to the smaller settings of family, school and peers. This required conceptualising adolescence as a socially constructed period, therefore prone to generational power relations as well as other societal phenomena like gender and class. School-youth employment in rural eastern Netherlands is largely a matter of free choice; however, given the fact that school-youth's lives are increasingly monetised, paid employment seems a likely response to a reality that's not limited to the adult world only. Nevertheless, school-youth's paid employment is not regarded as such, but as a beneficial and harmless side activity limited to things like newspaper delivery and baby-sitting, which therefore receive little public attention. This study challenges this commonsense assumption by critically analysing school-youth's paid employment experiences. Although school-youth employment undeniably offers learning experiences and a rare opportunity to be part of the adult world there are clearly better and worse jobs. Since most of the Dutch school-youth start working a few years before they are legally allowed to do so, they are largely dependent on informal (family) contacts for access to jobs. This way the choice of available jobs is not only determined by age, it tends to be shaped by social background and gender as well. This observation goes beyond a narrow focus on the Dutch child labour legislation, to the larger issue of the position and role of adolescents as a social group in modem societies and how this is cross-cut by gender and class.

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Okwany, Auma
Politics of Alternative Development (PAD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Huijsmans, Roy. (2004, December). Listening to Working School-youth: A Child-Centred Case-Study of Employment Experiences of HAVO-Students in Rural Eastern Netherlands. Politics of Alternative Development (PAD). Retrieved from