Treåringar, kameror och förskola – en serie diffraktiva rörelser

Magnusson, L. O.
Göteborg: ArtMonitor, Göteborgs universitet.


This dissertation examines what happens when 3-year-olds are given access to digital cameras. The point of departure is that preschool educators often document children's development, learning, actions and relationships using photographs, through which the children are defined and described by the preschool educator's photographic gazes. By giving the children access to digital cameras, the author wants to enable the children to take part in the visual documentation in preschool and to influence and change the meaning creation in and of the photographic culture of preschool.


Overall, the results show that giving children in preschool access to digital cameras also gives them the opportunity to add their own perspectives and aesthetics to the visual documentation at preschool.

The analyses in the study show that the children use the cameras in a number of different ways and not just as a camera. They play with the cameras, carry them around, bring them to the toilet, pack them in their bags, etc. According to the author, the camera becomes a tool for the children to see and make visible their surrounding world. For example, the children use the camera to focus on details such as close-ups of a sponge cake, but they also use the camera's display to frame off what is outside the photograph. An example of this is a boy who is sitting down and pointing the camera at a tree. The boy then gets up and slowly approaches the tree, whilst looking at the tree through the camera display in an attempt to capture an increasingly detailed picture of the tree. According to the author, this can be understood as aesthetic attraction unfolding between the boy, the view, the camera and the tree, thereby making the boy's use of the camera both discovering and creating.

The study also shows that giving children access to cameras breaks the adults' dominance of what is documented in preschool and how this is done. For example, the children photograph the adults in the preschool, thereby both examining and documenting the adults' bodies and actions. This also enables the children to participate as some sort of democratic players in preschool. According to the author, the children's perspectives are particularly evident when the children point the camera towards the adults, as the children hereby make visible power relations and at the same time show visual resistance against material and discursive everyday practices and rules in the preschool. However, the children also photograph each other. The author concludes that, in contrast to when the preschool educators photograph the children, the children have a clear ethical view of one another when photographing each other. This is often shown in that the children ask each other whether they can take a picture before they photograph.


Data was collected in two preschools, in which the author carried out observation for a total of six weeks. The author gave two groups of 3-year-olds access to digital cameras, and the children were instructed in how to use the cameras. The author did not actively control how the children had to photograph. The children were asked to photograph what they did in preschool. None of the participating children had used digital cameras in preschool before, but the children had often been documented via photographs on the walls of the institution and in the children's portfolios. The data material consists of video recordings of the children's use of digital cameras, the author's field notes and the photographs taken by the children in connection with data collection. The overall data material was analysed on the basis of post-structuralist perspectives, including Karen Barad's conceptual framework of agential realism.


Magnusson, L. O. (2017). Treåringar, kameror och förskola – en serie diffraktiva rörelser. Doktorsavhandling. Göteborg: ArtMonitor, Göteborgs universitet.