Shared Hopes, Separate Practices: Exploring Local Translations of an ECEC Curriculum

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In 2018, Danish parliament agreed to an amendment to the Act on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and added a value-based pedagogical foundation to the framework (Ministry of Children and Edu., 2020). This research aims at investigating how national policy is translated and put into practice locally. It does so by exploring how local versions of the national foundation are established in connections between the main actors: municipality, union representatives, heads of day cares, local managers and pedagogical staff in Aarhus, Denmark.

With an ethnographic approach, the study uses anthropology of policy (Shore &
Wright, 1997) and Actor-Network Theory (Latour 1987, Law, 1999). This way policy processes and local interpretations are understood as translations: a term that describe what happens when human and nonhuman actors come together, connect and transform one another.

Hopes and practices related to the pedagogical foundation were investigated doing fieldwork and carrying out semi-structured interviews with the main actors (cf. Atkinson & Hammersley, 2007). In addition, a comprehensive design framework (cf. Akama el al, 2018) was set up in three day cares. This included ‘research cycles’ (cf. Holmstrand & Härnsten, 2003) where main actors worked together with researchers to explore the pedagogical foundation and develop prototypes for work in practice. The cycles provide details about the day cares’ practice and values, their hopes for the foundation’s impact as well as their steps towards developing new activities and approaches. Results All main actors support and stabilize the pedagogical foundation as an important part of ECEC practices. The support is tied to shared hopes of improved ECEC quality, however, the support is also tied to very different quality perceptions and practices. In the presentation, we will show the different translations of the pedagogical foundation. We will highlight the connections between policy, governing of ECEC and pedagogics and discuss how ethnographic methods can shed light on these complex interrelations. interrelations.

With the intensified political governance in the Nordic countries, the research contributes with insights into how laws, acts and strategies are translated and put into practice by various actors locally. The outcomes and results are relevant to discussions about links between policy and education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date4 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021
EventNERA 2021: Hope and Education - SDU, Odense, Denmark
Duration: 3 Nov 20215 Nov 2021
Conference number: 2021


ConferenceNERA 2021
Internet address


  • educational science


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