Child Labour, Social Justice, Neoliberal, Digital Economy, Social Media
This major research paper explores the historical shifts in labour and childhood, highlighting children’s ongoing implication in the capitalist market. My focus is influencer marketing, the newest form of digital work. The onset of social media and the introduction of the “influencer” is a cultural and political-economic shift that has expanded the definition of labour, whether this form of labour is widely recognized or not. The Instamom has emerged from this redefinition of labour; these individuals have curated influencer status by advertising their life as a mom on social media, particularly Instagram. This becomes problematic as children are inherently involved in the income- generating labour process, and there are no laws protecting children from possible exploitation. In addition to labour, children are also unable to consent to having a permanent digital footprint which poses an ethical threat. There exists a substantial body of research and literature on the topic of child labour. Yet, there remains a fixation on child labour in the form of physical exploitation of children while corporations profit. Many international organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) outline the risks and hazards associated with child labour to fight for children’s rights and lobby for rigorous labour laws. While childhood and child labour within research and advocacy groups is understood as static and physical, this project presents alternate theorizations. I identify four subthemes that will be critically analyzed: Sponsored posts, candid photos, baby bump pictures, and relatable posts. Combined, all four themes showcase how children perform a necessary form of labour in this new social media economy I conclude the inclusion of children in Instamom content constitutes a form of labour and requires recognition as such for a legislative response.
Dr. Kyle Asquith
Dr. Valerie Scatamburlo-D’Annibale
Master of Arts
Communication, Media and Film
Major Research Paper