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Would you please, sit down? : guidance in preschool

PhD project The aim of the thesis is to deepen understanding of how socialization is performed in preschool. The empirical material upon which the results are based comprises video observations in which everyday situations were documented at two Swedish preschools. The analysis draws from Foucauldian theories of power.

Swedish preschools have their own curriculum (National Agency for Education, 2010) in which the tasks of the preschool are formulated. As they are presented, these tasks may be perceived as complex. This offers wide scope for interpretation, where the task of socializing children is veiled under words with positive connotations, such as democracy, solidarity, empathy, consideration and respect. The vague expression of this task of socializating children lends importance to the study of how socialization is performed in the preschool.

Head of project

Anna Rantala
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2012-09-01 2016-10-21

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Applied Educational Science Research, Umeå School of Education

Project description

In this thesis, results of a thematic analysis of the normative utterances of educators are presented. The results uncover activities in everyday situations where children are guided in various ways and in which power, discipline and normalization are common elements. A picture emerges from the analysis of how attempts are made to communicate norms about how people should behave in a democratic society, even as the guidance provided varies both between genders and among individual children.

The thesis contributes to deeper understanding of how socialization is performed in preschool by visualizing guidance in various situations, which makes it possible to analyse both how this guidance is delivered and the direction in which the children are guided.

To the thesis