Talking about children’s resistance to the institutional order and teachers in preschool.

Markstrom, A.-M.
Journal of Early Childhood Research, 8(3), 303-314.


The purpose of this study is to examine children's resistance to the social hierarchy in the kindergarten on the basis of child carers' accounts about children's behaviour in kindergarten. The context of the study is meetings with parents at which child carers and parents talk about the children at the kindergarten. In particular, the study focuses on the following questions: How do children express their resistance towards the institution and child carers? What kinds of resistance do the child carers associate with specific traits in the child? Is there a difference in the way child carers characterise resistance observed in girls and boys, respectively?


The study shows that parents' meetings express child carers' assessment and categorisation of the individual child. The child carers' accounts of the child's resistance to the social hierarchy at the kindergarten gives parents an understanding of what kinds of behaviour child carers consider to be problematic or desirable, respectively. According to the study, children show resistance in five ways: physical resistance, social resistance, verbal resistance, emotional resistance and rejection as resistance. The five types of resistance sometimes overlap in the accounts by the child carers, which indicates the complexity of what is expected of a child in kindergarten, but can also be seen as an indication of the child's skills. However, child carers perceive the resistance as problematic rather than desirable, and accounts about children's resistance are used to reinforce the construction of the desirable child. To some extent, girls and boys are discussed in different ways, which according to the study may reflect the child carers' stereotypical and traditional understanding of gender roles.


The data material consists of 22 audio recordings of meetings with parents at eight kindergartens. The child carers were randomly selected to participate in the study. Parent meetings lasted between 20 and 90 minutes. The data has been transcribed and reviewed for episodes that express child carers' implicit or explicit expectations for the 'proper' and 'normal' child. The term 'resistance' is used as a discursive data analysis tool in the analysis of the material.


Markstrom, A.-M. (2010). ”Talking about children’s resistance to the institutional order and teachers in preschool”. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 8(3), 303-314.

Financed by

The Swedish Research Council