Parents of the welfare state: pedagogues as parenting guides

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At present, there is a heightened focus on the importance of early childhood within discussions of education policy. This has resulted in renewed focus on early childhood education and care (ECEC) and reinvigorated a mindset which has been characterized as infant determinism (Furedi 2001/2002). The rational basis for this way of thinking is that anything of any importance in a person’s life is determined during childhood. If the quality of early childhood determines people’s lives and whether they, in an economic perspective, become healthy and productive members of society or an expense, ECEC institutions have a fundamental role to play. It would seem to be here – as well as within the family – that the foundation is laid for all that is to come. It has therefore also become a political mantra across the globe that a well-functioning partnership between parents and ECEC institutions is a necessity (Bach & Christensen 2016/7). Numerous studies have already shown how parents all over the world are increasingly expected to take an active role at their children’s schools (Axelvoll 2016, Dannesboe), but this seemingly also now applies to ECEC. Based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in three ECEC institutions and interviews with staff and parents, in this article, we discuss the relationship between parents and ECEC institutions in a Danish context. More specifically, we examine the role played by staff at ECEC institutions when parents ‘do’ parenting. Are they a helping hand and a friend in the hour of need, do they share the responsibility, are they the experts, guardians of moral rectitude, or just the people who take care of the children while the parents are at work? We are interested both in how ECEC staff behave towards parents and how parents perceive the impact of ECEC personnel on their parenting. We focus in particular on these questions in terms of preparing children for school.
TidsskriftSocial Policy and Society
Sider (fra-til)467-480
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 31 jan. 2018


  • Familie og opdragelse, Pædagogprofession, Velfærdsstaten, Early childhood

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