Envisioning a Solution for a Runaway Object: A Formative Intervention in a Child Labor Combat Network

  • Sandra DonatelliEmail author
  • Rodolfo Andrade de Gouveia Vilela
  • Marco Antonio Pereira Querol
  • Sandra Francisca Bezerra Gemma


Technological changes and increasing international competition in jewelry and semiprecious jewelry manufacturing, which took place in recent decades, led manufacturers in Limeira, São Paulo, Brazil, to implement outsourcing strategies which promote child exploitation. Despite the efforts of regulatory agencies, child labor could not be eradicated to this day. As a fact, the pattern of spread of child labor makes it uncontrollable and thus what Engeström calls a runaway object. Such objects pose a considerable challenge, because they lack a center for control, but combat depends on the cooperation of various interdependent activities. The aim of the present chapter is to analyze Change Laboratory (CL) sessions to describe the learning trajectory of Limeira Municipal Committee for Eradication of Child Labor and Adolescent Work Protection (COMETIL). Ever since its creation, COMETIL met difficulties to develop an interinstitutional network of public services targeting child and adolescent protection. Intervention served to consolidate COMETIL and define a viable object within such diffuse and complex set of activities. For analysis, we had resource to notions such as runaway object, relational agency, and infrastructure. We conclude that the object develops as COMETIL actors’ agency escapes the rigid structure of the various institutions to enable the provision of assistance to families with children who work.


Domestic labor 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Donatelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rodolfo Andrade de Gouveia Vilela
    • 2
  • Marco Antonio Pereira Querol
    • 3
  • Sandra Francisca Bezerra Gemma
    • 4
  1. 1.Occupational Safety and Medicine Foundation Jorge Duprat Figueiredo – FUNDACENTROSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Environmental HealthSchool of Public Health, University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Agronomic EngineeringFederal University of SergipeSão CristóvãoBrazil
  4. 4.School of Applied SciencesUniversity of CampinasLimeiraBrazil

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