Barnehagen i en brytningstid: Tradisjoner i spill og praksiser under press i den store barnehagen.

Berge, A.
PhD avhandling. Universitetet i Stavanger.


The overall purpose of this dissertation is to examine how ECEC practices are influenced by general societal developments and trends. The author’s point of departure is that, over the past decade, ECEC has become a central part of the welfare state, and consequently it has also become the focus of public attention. In connection with this, the dissertation aims to explore how daily practices are manifested in a large kindergarten (barnehage), which is organised as four major sections, each comprising several units. In particular, the dissertation focuses on how practices at the kindergarten are maintained, challenged and reformulated in response to changes in society at large.

The overall research questions are: (1) How are the content and organisation of the kindergarten expressed in the work carried out at the kindergarten and in the staff’s descriptions? (2) How do these descriptions relate to societal changes?


Overall, the study shows how everyday life at a large kindergarten is not only formed by society’s expectations or by the physical work framework, but, on the contrary, it is created in a mutual process of local discursive and social practices produced by kindergarten staff. In a broader perspective, the dissertation serves to demonstrate how trends in society influence everyday life in kindergartens, through discursive and social practices as well as through the physical framework.

The dissertation indicates how the kindergarten in the study challenges the established social practices and work content, as well as the staff’s professional and social positions and relationships with the children. The study shows how the physical design of the large kindergarten symbolises a break from homely environment and the care-oriented pedagogical tradition of the traditional kindergarten. This illustrates how increased societal focus on ECEC has brought about a change in expectations to kindergartens. The analysis indicates that the large kindergarten is thereby going through a dialectic process involving both continuity and ongoing change. On this basis, the author concludes that the study may shed light on the position of kindergarten staff on the fault line between society’s expectations and the staff’s perceptions of the tasks and objectives of kindergartens. The kindergarten is therefore at a crossroads, where new interests and ideals are putting pressure on the established perceptions that are expressed in pedagogical practices. The kindergarten has become part of a more widespread power game for its position in society.


The empirical basis of the dissertation consists of ethnographic field work at a large, newly established kindergarten. The fieldwork took place during a period of six months at one section of the kindergarten, which comprised three units with children aged 3-5 years (a total of 64 children). The data material consists of observations, field notes and group interviews with kindergarten staff. The interviewees were four pedagogical leaders (teachers responsible for a group of children or for the pedagogical work), five assistants and four members of the administrative management. The data analysis was performed as critical discourse analysis, exploring both discursive and social practices.


Berge, A. (2015). Barnehagen i en brytningstid: Tradisjoner i spill og praksiser under press i den store barnehagen. PhD avhandling. Universitetet i Stavanger.

Financed by

University of Stavanger.