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Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus
Master i barnehagepedagogikk
The topic of this master’s thesis is: “Children’s resistance as participation,” seen in light of perspectives from radical democracy theory and the ethical philosophy of Levinas. I investigate how these theories can contribute to an expanded understanding of children’s resistance in young-age childcare settings. I discuss possible influences of children’s resistance on the pedagogical development of staff members in childcare institutions. Children’s participation has received much attention since it was mandated by Norwegian law in 2005. Scientific literature shows that children’s participation has been addressed in various ways and has been described from a number of perspectives. This thesis problematizes participation within a discourse about rights and presents participation as an ethical practice in the relation between children and adults in young-age childcare settings. Additionally, it problematizes a negative view of children’s resistance. The possible influence of perspectives from radical democracy theory on the view of children’s resistance is investigated (Laclau & Mouffe, 2002; Mouffe, 2005). As an early-childhood teacher I have found it valuable to listen to children’s resistance in order to develop as a pedagogue and to learn to let children have influence. In this thesis, I bring this experience into a larger context. I did a micro-ethnographic study in a young-age childcare setting. During my research I recorded observations of situations I interpreted as children’s expressions of resistance. The observations are interpreted through perspectives from the theory of radical democracy and from Levinas’ ethical philosophy. I view my findings in relation to other research on children’s resistance and in a professional ethical perspective connected to the social mandate of childcare institutions. I discuss how children’s resistance can affect the pedagogical development of childcare personnel, using Levinas (1991, 1998a, 1998b) and Norheim (2013) as a point of departure. Drawing on Norheim (2013), I place Levinas’ ethical philosophy in the context of a «hermeneutics of moral judgment».
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