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The Papers

Abstract & Summary

Children On The Wire: The Problem of the Working Child

A thesis in John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought submitted to the faculty of the Graduate School of Arts & Science in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts at New York University



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We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

This thesis examines the visual and thematic portrayal of urban Black childhood in the HBO series "The Wire," created by David Simon with the historical child labor documentation by American photographer Lewis Hine. It aims to unravel the nuanced evolution of childhood in America, shedding light on the socio-political and economic shifts (or lack thereof) from the early 20th century to the present.

This analysis draws upon critical race theory, the development of the juvenile justice system, and the concept of childhood as a socio-legal construction, referencing theorists like Caroline Levander, who asserts that childhood is "made, not born," and Alison Diduck, who highlights childhood as a complex socio-legal, political, and economic construct. The essay critiques the notion of a monolithic childhood experience, highlighting how children in marginalized communities face drastically different realities, a concept deeply rooted in Kimberle Crenshaw's intersectionality framework.

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Justina Sade M.A.

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