Daginstitutionsarbejde og pædagogisk faglighed.

Ahrenkiel, A.
Nielsen, B.S.
Schmidt, C.
Sommer, F.
Warring, N.
København: Frydenlund.


This study examines how the professional skills of early childhood educators can be developed and can serve as an alternative to neoliberal management methods. Focus is on daycare facilities. The point of departure is the drastic neoliberal-inspired changes that are taking place in daycare facilities. Neoliberalism aims at political-economic regulation of society, combining extensive marketization with centralised government control, including the new approach to daycare facilities as a service to citizens. The authors wish to examine how these changes affect daycare facilities, and to develop alternatives to the neoliberal approach to daycare.


The study shows how the current restructuring of daycare facilities affects the nature and quality of the activities in daycare facilities. The authors state that the work of early childhood educators, and their professionalism, is being put under pressure due to the one-sided focus on developing cognitive skills instead of on developing general social skills. At the same time, neoliberal management methods are being implemented, however these methods are often counteracted, modified and redefined when the early childhood educators strive to perform their duties and meet the requirements put to them. On the basis of this, the authors conclude that early childhood educators play a central role in the renewal of daycare facilities, and the authors argue that it is important that early childhood educators are allowed freedom of action in their work, and are given credit for their actions, if the daycare facility is to maintain its function as a place of social learning for children.


Data collection was based on observations at two daycare facilities for one week. Staff were observed throughout the period to see what they did and talked about when they were together with the children and when they were not with the children. Moreover, staff and managers were interviewed individually in each daycare facility. The objective of the interviews was to hear staff’s stories about their work as well as their reflections, both with regard to their actual daily work as observed by the researchers, and with regard to working as an early childhood educator today seen from society’s perspective and from a personal perspective. In addition to this, two workshops were held. Staff from the two daycare facilities participated in these workshops that were conducted as a dialogue between the researchers and the early childhood educators, on the basis of the authors‘ observations and interviews. In brief, each workshop consisted of a communal reflection of the role of daycare facilities and of what the educators wished to accomplish in their work. In their analysis, the authors emphasise three fundamental dimensions in the work of early childhood educators: the disregard of professional qualifications, the collective nature of the work and the personal aspect.


Ahrenkiel, A., Nielsen, B.S., Schmidt, C., Sommer, F. & Warring, N. (2012). Daginstitutionsarbejde og pædagogisk faglighed. København: Frydenlund.

Financed by

The Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators’ research pool