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Child labor

26 June 2011


Financial Times [free subscription required]:

Welcome to KidZania, perhaps the only place in the world where child labour is actively encouraged. The idea was born in Mexico just over a decade ago when Xavier López Anconca was approached by a friend to co-invest in a day care centre where children would play at working and businesses.

… the model for Mr López’s edutainment empire has evolved into a well-honed strategy. First, identify a dense urban centre where relatively prosperous young parents will pay repeatedly for their children to play safely indoors.

…Second, ensure the city is home to a slew of corporate headquarters – especially companies with large social responsibility budgets that will pay KidZania to build its branded mini-cities: as much as 40 per cent of each centre’s construction costs are met by sponsors. That is also why entrance tickets to the Mexico City centre are boarding passes given at an American Airlines check-in counter, and why children build houses using Cemex-branded materials, call each other on mobile phones provided by Telcel and bottle fizzy drinks in a facsimile of a bottling plant…

,…To be sure, KidZania can be seen as a grim training ground for the next generation of consumers. But Mr López counters “we are only copying the real world”. Besides, he adds, children learn valuable social skills, including the value of money…

I notice they don’t have any kiddie-unions, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the tyke-transitos shake down the little darlings for their candy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. "craig" permalink
    26 June 2011 1:28 pm

    Reducing childrens’ play time to free-market capitalism and neo-liberal (i.e., nuts!) philosophies and practices is bound to alter their futures.

    Perhaps the children will become brilliant business-people, driven by profits and money. Perhaps they will suffer from an inability to express themselves creatively, via art, music, or the written word. Perhaps being deprived of random play will inhibit social development.

    What would happen, say, if they begin to see other people as only potential markets, rather than trusted friends and family? (Anyone who has ever been approached by a “friend” selling Amway may understand this queasy concern.)

    “We are only imitating the real world” doesn’t sound like a very good justification. There are a lot of things going on in “the real world” which parents strive to protect their children from every minute of the day.

    But in the capitalist religion of the day, what you do to other people – even children – doesn’t matter, as long as you make a buck.

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