If I Had a Choice...: Experiences of Adolescents Assisting in Earning a Livelihood
Compared with the western society, Taiwan is a modern society which is based on the collectivism (or familism) in its traditional culture. In Taiwan, adolescents facing family economic difficulties have to assist in earning a livelihood. They sacrifice their free time and wellbeing for the benefit of their families. In this study, the researcher had interviews with ten adolescents, aged from sixteen to twenty years, who dedicated themselves to earn a livelihood. It attempted to portray their life experiences and how such experiences had impact on them. Family poverty, the collectivism (or familism), the filial piety, and the shortage of social resources forced these adolescents to share family economic responsibilities. Assisting in earning a livelihood is a duty of these adolescents, rather than a choice. To assisting their families, they cannot receive good education; they tend to suffer from negative physiological and psychological outcomes. And their likelihood of continuing poverty in adulthood is very high. These adolescents are oppressed by the authorities in the family, schools; and the labor market. Because of their poor human capital, they are heavily exploited by the secondary labor market. Nevertheless; sharing the responsibilities of family expenses matures them and makes them tough to face life challenges. The government should help these adolescents by providing them job choices, changing the exploitation of the labor market, and settling programs for these adolescents in order to protect them for better development.
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