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The Teenage Street Workers of Lima: Family Survival Strategies and Metropolisation in Latin America

Robin Cavagnoud

The objective of the present article is to demonstrate how children, living in a very insecure context, use the streets as a space where resources can be developed in such a way as to ensure the survival of their siblings. The strategies they employ are part and parcel of a socio-historical context of massive metropolization that, looked at closely, allows one to trace back the origins of their daily activities to urban unemployment.. This article is rooted in an unashamedly qualitative methodology based on case studies on the sociologies of the child and of insecurity. Though itinerant adolescent labour and the metropolization of Lima can be clearly seen to hinge on the linkage between the micro and macro-sociological spheres, this correlation only makes sense when the use of the street as a resource space is taken into account. In the three cases of working adolescents studied here, the street symbolizes both the space used by children to ensure their own survival and an expanding metropolis.