Situated decoding of gender in a Swedish preschool practice

Frödén, S.


The purpose of the article is to develop a theory about gender and gender equality in kindergartens.


Based on Judith Butler, the author has developed a new concept: situated decoding of gender. The author argues that the material and spatial dimensions of kindergarten practice and kindergarten teachers’ actions establish and maintain a process in which gender is constantly made less relevant. Instead of normalising the gender binary, a reverse process occurs. The author argues that this continuous reiterative process emerges and is maintained by three main factors: (a) the kindergarten’s physical environment, (b) the regular and repetitive structure of the educational practice and (c) the consistent actions of the teachers in the everyday practice.  


The article is based on data from an ethnographic study conducted in a Swedish Steiner kindergarten with 17 children aged 3–7 years old. The author conducted participatory observations and had both spontaneous conversations and in-depth, semi-structured research interviews with them. In addition to field notes, the author has audio recorded children’s conversations and daily activities in kindergarten. 


Frödén, S. (2019). “Situated decoding of gender in a Swedish preschool practice”. Ethnography and Education, 14(2):121–135. 

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