The impact of policy on early childhood education and care professionals working in integrated service settings
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Dr Daniel Leach-McGill
My research investigates the influence of policy reform on the professional identities of Early Childhood Education and Care professionals operating in an integrated service setting. I used interviews and activity-based focus groups to examine ways that ECEC professionals describe and value their work and how their priorities and practices shape their professional identities. In addition, I analysed five key ECEC policy-reform documents to identify the problems they propose and explore ways that policy imperatives shape the practices of ECEC professionals. I worked between critical and poststructuralist theories to explore the complex intersection between policy and practice. I drew on the work of Foucault to explore concepts of governmentality and Butler to explore the performative ways in which policy is enacted. Turning to critical theory, I drew on Fraser’s concepts of recognition, redistribution, and representation along with Lynch’s concept of relationality, using these constructs to fashion a model of professional inclusion. Using this model, I traced the professional performances and practices of six ECEC professionals in one integrated care setting. I examined the ways in which both practitioner performances and government policies were influenced by cultural, economic, political, and affective scripts that circulated as discourse through the field. Through my research, I found that both policy descriptions of quality service delivery and practitioner priorities are increasingly influenced by neoliberal ideology in ways that often obscure other valued professional contributions. I used the model of professional inclusion to re-centre views of professionalism and to examine the affective work in which ECEC professionals engage to counter-balance economically scripted policy descriptions of ECEC practice. Using this model, I argue for greater recognition of the affective effort that ECEC professionals describe in relation to implementing integrated approaches and undertaking the relational elements of their work.
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