The Sociology department recognized Isabel Jijon’s thesis, The Priceless Child on the Global Periphery: Or, How Bolivia Changed its Child Labor Laws, with the 21st Century Prize, which recognizes a distinguished dissertation that contributes to public policy or the public interest. Isabel Jijon’s committee consisted of Professors Philip Smith (chair), Tamara Kay, and Frederick Wherry. Jijon is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Sociology Department at Princeton University.
“I am incredibly grateful for this award and for the Yale Sociology Department’s support and encouragement,” said Ms. Jijon. “My research would not have been possible without this fantastic intellectual community. I look forward to continuing this research and engaging public policy.”
Jijon’s imaginative thesis investigates the translation of global norms in assessing child labor laws and practices in Bolivia. The trend in international law and norms has been to raise the age at which children should be permitted to work and to restrict the kinds of work children can perform. In response to protests against restrictions by working children and adolescents, however, and in a direct contravention of an international norm, Bolivia passed a revised law in 2014 that allowed children as young as ten years old to work. Drawing on the perspectives of multiple actors, Jijon explains the circumstances surrounding the law’s passage in Bolivia. She finds, contrary to what one might expect, that the Bolivian actors in question do not resist global norms with assertions of local culture, but rather employ alternate global norms in arguing for children’s right to engage in remunerative work.