Child Migration, Child Agency and Inter-generational Relations in Africa and South Asia
This paper arises out of the findings from a set of research projects carried out under the aegis of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty at the University of Sussex, which examines children who migrate without their parents in developing country contexts. The projects, located in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana and India, were not designed as comparative case studies on a single template; however, all the projects start from the conceptualisation of the child as an agent - capable of acting. The paper draws on the studies to explore how children exercise agency within particular sets of social relations, notably those within the family. The paper uses a specific interpretation of the idea of the inter-generational contract, widely used in demographic studies, to illustrate the bargaining strategies that prospective migrants deploy vis-à-vis their parents and the factors that parents and children take into account in these negotiations. It also explores diverse ways in which education is implicated in the inter-generational contract and is linked to child migration, as well as at the maintenance of the inter-generational contract in the context of child migration. The paper concludes with a discussion of the constraints on the child's exercise of agency in relation to migration.