Nathan Archer

Nov 25, 2021
Journal of Early Childhood Research
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Journal of Early Childhood Research, Ahead of Print. Neoliberal thinking has increasingly shaped global and national policy incursions in early childhood education. Research has highlighted the power effects of such policies with consequences for pedagogy, provision and the professional identities of educators. Less well understood are educator responses to these policies. Whilst literature offers some exploration of resistance movements, little is known from empirical studies about how acts of resistance are enacted individually (and collectively) in the professional lives of early years educators. This article explores how English early childhood educators resist policy constructions of ideal professional identities. Using reconceptualized critical theory, this paper considers both neoliberal shaped demands on early educators and their resistance to these. Employing data from professional life story interviews (n = 16) by early educators in a range of contexts, narratives were constructed which document their responses to ECE policies. This paper draws on three of these narratives. A Critical Narrative Analysis reveals that educator resistances are not always large scale, collective or mobilized but are often expressed in atomized contexts through a dispersed network of actors. Individual responses included ‘micro resistances’ which were often local, quiet and invisible but multiple. The paper offers novel insights into c/overt resistances revealing educators’ complex, nuanced and subversive responses to discursive policy manoeuvres.

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