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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to analyze the emergence of the child labor problem in tobacco growing in Agudo (Rio Grande do Sul state), triggered by the promulgation of Act 6.481/2008, which addresses the worst child labor conditions. The methodological procedures used were the literature review, desk research and a case study, conducted in the municipality of Agudo. In the case study, we have tried to obtain quantitative and qualitative data through questionnaires and open interviews directed to 27 tobacco growers, and with teenagers and children under 18 years old. The survey results indicate the existence of a clash between different conceptions of child labor in small scale family farmers. The legal devices, the commitment terms and the tobacco supply chain contracts forbid child labor below the age of 18 based on international agreements and regulations which guarantee childhood development. From the perspective of the families, child labor is understood as “help” and a way of socialization and training of the inheritor. Therefore, parents do not agree that child labor is a perverse form of labor exploitation of their children.

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