TitleFrom the breeding places of delinquency
NameJensen, Jennifer Anne (author), Rao, Gautham (chair), Rutgers University, Graduate School - Newark,
Child labor--United States--History--20th century,
Child consumers--United States--History--20th century,
Working class--United States--History--20th century
DescriptionThis thesis traces the history of child laborers as consumers at the turn of the twentieth century and their central role in the events leading to child labor reform through their conspicuous consumer behaviors. Situated within broader late nineteenth and early twentieth-century developments in American child labor reform efforts and the recent revisionist turn in historical agency, the thesis addresses the often overlooked and underestimated role child laborers played as consumers due to subsequent legal developments allowing working-class children access to an unregulated market place. By examining the evolution of child apprentices into child laborers, the history reveals changing ideological developments in the role of working-class children in the market place and the children’s rights to self-possession, and by extension personal autonomy. From there, the thesis examines how working-class children interacted in their environment, primarily in the market place as consumers, and the significance of their consumer intersections to the history of child labor reform in light of the unique legal treatment children experienced. Finally, the thesis explores Progressive Era reformers’ efforts to reform working-class populations based on principles of environmental analysis by removing the working-class child from unwholesome environments for treatment without addressing the underlying cause giving children entrance into the market place. Although progressive reformers responded to working-class children’s perceived exposure to immorality from associating with unwholesome environments that were also popular leisure time places among the working-classes, reformers’ efforts were largely unsuccessful due to certain flaws in their principles of reform that did not address the underlying cause allowing working-class children unregulated access to consume in the market place. While reformers tried and ultimately failed to reform children based on applied progressive principles of environmental analysis, this study extends our scholarly perspective of children’s pivotal role as consumers brought to light by the underlying legal gap allowing children in the market place and set the stage for future child labor reform.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Jennifer Anne Jensen
CollectionGraduate School - Newark Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.