Kvardagslivet til barneborgarar. Ein studie av barna si deltaking i tre norske barnehager.

Grindheim, L.T.
Doktorafhandling for graden philosophiae doctor. Trondheim: Norges teknisk-naturvidenskapelige universitet.


This study is a PhD dissertation based on four articles. The PhD dissertation focuses on children's everyday life and democracy in a preschool context and raises questions about children as fellow citizens. The overall purpose is to examine 1) what creates the possibility for participation, and how children participate in communities of children, 2) how children relate to rules and fixed structures at preschool, and 3) the frameworks that exist for communities of children at preschool. Overall, these questions elucidate how democratic skills are formed in children at preschools.


Across the articles, the dissertation shows how preschools' physical layout, artefacts (e.g. toys) and expectations to children create conditions for children's participation in a Norwegian preschool context. For example, the dissertation indicates that preschools' routines and division of children into groups are special conditions. Moreover, the dissertation shows how children as players navigate in connection with such conditions. An interesting point is that planned activities aiming to involve children (e.g. giving children several choices) often result in less participation than children's own play. Children seem interested in participating through play. In this connection, age, toys and children's seniority at preschool play a role with regard to the ways in which they are part of communities of children. On the one hand, play can be viewed as a democratic arena. On the other hand, play does not always include democratic elements such as solidarity and equality. Through the dissertation, the author suggests that children's resistance or anger can be viewed as a sign of children's agentship. Being a child citizen differs from being an adult citizen in the sense that children depend on adults and do not share the same legal rights. However, the study clearly shows that children can do other things than adults and are players in their own life.


The first article focuses particularly on children's play activities and the ways in which participation and involvement are negotiated between children. Play provides the children with experience in negotiating participation, and they experience that "child citizenship" is largely about communities of children, in which the children create their own patterns to participate. The second article aims at children's participation in jigsaw activities. The article shows how children's participation in jigsaw activities can provide insight into democratic practices at preschools. The article indicates that jigsaw activities become a shared project between children and can be viewed as a democratic development/education arena. The third article focuses on the relationship between children's participation and the physical frameworks at preschool. The article shows that there is ambivalence in the architecture between setting the children free and regulating them. Furthermore, the article shows how children's playful resistance, e.g. through hide-and-seek and tag situations, challenges traditional power relations between children and adults. The analysis in article 4 shows how anger as a feeling between children and staff is not recognised. The study also shows that conflicts and anger among the children are common, and that children are able to resolve conflicts and also make room for ways to participate. The author suggests that resolving conflicts on the basis of a situation that is perceived as unfair expands the community towards a higher degree of equal co-existence.


The study is based on ethnographic field work at three different preschools. The study includes shorter periods of field work from 2008-2012. The preschools were selected on the basis of variation in their physical layout and on their different organisation with regard to rooms, staff groups and groups of children. The field work includes observations of children's everyday life, including play activities, communication and interaction between children and staff as well as observations of the physical layout of the preschools. Moreover, unstructured interviews were conducted with children and staff at preschool 1. The study is based on Wenger's concepts of participation and reification, on Biesta's democratic understanding and partly on Cohen's concepts of participation. Furthermore, the dissertation includes studies on children and democracy.



Grindheim, L.T. (2014). ”Kvardagslivet til barneborgarar. Ein studie av barna si deltaking i tre norske barnehager”. Doktorafhandling for graden philosophiae doctor. Trondheim: Norges teknisk-naturvidenskapelige universitet.

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