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Session Overview
RN10_11c_IC: Early Childhood and Education
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Adriana Aubert Simon, University of Barcelona
Location: Intercontinental - Athenaeum CC III
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Lobby Level

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Discursive frameworks of organizing ECEC: A case study in Finnish municipalities

Petteri Eerola1, Kirsti Karila1, Maarit Alasuutari2, Anu Kuukka2, Anna Siippainen2

1University of Tampere, Finland; 2University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Scholarly discussion on early childhood education and care (ECEC) has remained vital through the 2000s. The discussion has especially focused on global discourses of childhood and ECEC. Though we live in a world where global, national and local are closely interrelated, significantly less attention has been paid on local interpretations of these discourses. This is the issue to be contemplated in the presentation.

We examine how local-level ECEC decision-makers rationalize organizing ECEC in their area. In Finland ECEC services are organized publicly by municipalities, and therefore, it offers an interesting case for studying the relations of global and local ECEC discourses. Our research question is what the discursive frameworks of organizing the ECEC are in Finnish municipalities? The data consist of interviews of municipal politicians and ECEC authorities (n=78) conducted in 10 Finnish municipalities in early 2016. In our analysis, discourse analytic approach serves as a broad analytical framework.

We present three discursive frames – local, economy and services – through which the organizing of ECEC at municipal level is rationalized. Within each frame, variation in rationalities was discovered and the variation seemed to be interrelated with the type of the municipality. Due to municipal self-government in organizing ECEC, the variation in rationalities might potentially lead to inequalities in ECEC provision in different municipalities.

The presented study is based on the project Finnish Childcare Policies: In/Equality in Focus (2015-2020), funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland.

Social investment for whom? Early childhood education reforms and persisting inequalities. The case of the Autonomous Province of Trento.

Martino Serapioni

Free University of Bolzano, Belgium

This paper takes issue with the social investment claim that functionalist childcare strategies, built upon currently employed individuals, can prove effective for decreasing inequality in educational opportunity across socio-economic groups (SEGs). I argue that recent efforts to recalibrate welfare states towards activation policies have generated inequitable dynamics of early childhood services expansion. Whereas over the last decades the number of day-care centres and participation rates in formal childcare have increased across the European Union (EU), this broadening of provision has not been accompanied by an equally broad commitment to create a universal legal entitlement to childcare. Likewise, EU countries have been found wanting in enacting adequate measures to remove financial barriers preventing poorer families from taking up more hours of formal early education.

My paper focuses on a paradigmatic example of social investment-inspired childcare expansion: the case of early childhood governance in the Autonomous Province of Trento / APT (Italy) between 1998 and 2015. Over this period, renewed investment has raised childcare participation considerably in the APT, but concurrently it fell short of setting the foundations for a universal model. Childcare policies followed a choice-increasing pattern, ensuing the rise of parapublic and private centres, as well as of family-based services. Whereas attempts to ensure equal access through means-tested subsidies and voucher schemes were undertaken, public and non-public centres still present flat fees and higher tariffs that crowd out poorer families. The distribution of childcare thus remains skewed along economic lines, with more affluent SEGs recording much higher participation rates.

Too little, too late: care-less spaces and exclusionary narratives for young offenders with ‘learning difficulties’ and their families

Chrissie Rogers

University of Bradford

Social justice, care and ethics ought to be considered when exploring spaces of systemic violence for young offenders and their families. Particularly, but not exclusively, in considering those with attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). As a result of previous research, I have developed a care ethics model of disability that is a global proposition for all areas of social life, but it is within the education and criminal justice system (CJS) that ethical and care-full work via the emotional, practical and socio-political caring spheres is arguably needed the most. Therefore, it makes sense to explore education and criminal justice narratives, via current qualitative. It is here I identify countless care-less spaces and exclusionary narratives. Furthermore, schooling and the CJS, as institutions, are micro social systems within the socio-political sphere and it is within these systems a broader picture of social justice/injustice, exclusion/inclusion and success/failure can be charted. All things considered, education (one space where offending, violent and challenging behaviour can escalate) and the CJS need re-humanising. Therefore, rather than following a path of blame, whether it is the ‘dysfunctional family’, the ‘deficit’ child or the economically deprived nation, we require ethically just practices and caring, care-full spaces as a fundamental part of a re-humanising the socio-political sphere.

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