A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care

Tina Stratigos

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This thesis is about belonging in infant early childhood education and care (ECEC). A sense of belonging is widely acknowledged as an essential aspect of young children’s wellbeing and plays a central role in a number of early childhood curriculum frameworks internationally, including Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF). However, the limited conceptualisation of belonging in the EYLF and what a focus on belonging might do in ECEC have been questioned. Indeed, belonging tends to be poorly defined and theorised across a range of disciplines and is often used as a taken-for-granted or self-explanatory concept. The EYLF focuses on the experience of belonging, particularly social, cultural and emotional belonging; but ignores the dynamic, political processes through which belonging works. The risk is that the emphasis on belonging, which holds the potential to contribute to social justice perspectives in ECEC, is dismissed simply as a romantic notion. It is important, therefore, to seek more complex ways of thinking about belonging and develop understandings about how belong works in young children’s everyday lives in ECEC.

Infants’ social lives in ECEC are most commonly theorised in terms of
attachment theory rather than through the lens of belonging. However, the
applicability of attachment theory, with its almost exclusive focus on dyadic adultinfant relationships, to the complex social environments found in ECEC has been questioned. For example, it has been argued that attachment theory offers insights into only one aspect of infants’ social worlds and that other, broader lenses might reveal more of infants’ complex social abilities. Questions remain about what insights into infants’ social lives in ECEC might be afforded by a belonging lens.

The aim of the doctoral project reported in this thesis was to investigate how
belonging ‘worked’ for an infant in ECEC, particularly in relation to his belonging within the multi-age group of children, and what roles he played in how belonging worked. To this end, a 10-month longitudinal case study of belonging was conducted with Peter between the ages of 8 and 18 months in a family day care (FDC) setting. Data generation included video observations of Peter at FDC with accompanying field and reflective notes and a video-stimulated interview with Peter’s educator and parents. The data were brought into an encounter with concepts from Deleuze (such as assemblage, desire and micropolitics) and ideas from existing literature about how belonging operates (such as axes and politics of belonging) in an effort to produce new thinking about how belonging worked for Peter in the FDC setting.

The study suggests that belonging for Peter was not just about a dyadic
relationship with a significant adult, but a complex and dynamic political process that was negotiated through interactions and relationships within the whole FDC group. The important roles played by materiality and processes of categorisation in how belonging worked for Peter in ECEC were revealed. Vulnerabilities and competencies were identified in Peter’s capacity to access power and engage in active ways in political processes of belonging. The findings suggest that a political perspective on belonging is important and can contribute to and destabilise our accustomed ways of thinking about the social worlds of children in ECEC. In relation to infants, the politics of belonging have the potential to capture more of the complex and dynamic social worlds of infants beyond those afforded by more common theories of infant sociability such as attachment theory, with implications for theory, curriculum and practice.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Sumsion, Jennifer, Co-Supervisor
  • Bradley, Benjamin, Co-Supervisor
Award date05 Aug 2015
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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early childhood education and care
day care
infant
video
curriculum theory
learning
micro-politics
politics
sociability
self-concept
social justice
everyday life
age group
vulnerability
parents
childhood
educator

Cite this

Stratigos, T. (2015). A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care. Australia: Charles Sturt University.
Stratigos, Tina. / A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care. Australia : Charles Sturt University, 2015. 187 p.
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title = "A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care",
abstract = "This thesis is about belonging in infant early childhood education and care (ECEC). A sense of belonging is widely acknowledged as an essential aspect of young children’s wellbeing and plays a central role in a number of early childhood curriculum frameworks internationally, including Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF). However, the limited conceptualisation of belonging in the EYLF and what a focus on belonging might do in ECEC have been questioned. Indeed, belonging tends to be poorly defined and theorised across a range of disciplines and is often used as a taken-for-granted or self-explanatory concept. The EYLF focuses on the experience of belonging, particularly social, cultural and emotional belonging; but ignores the dynamic, political processes through which belonging works. The risk is that the emphasis on belonging, which holds the potential to contribute to social justice perspectives in ECEC, is dismissed simply as a romantic notion. It is important, therefore, to seek more complex ways of thinking about belonging and develop understandings about how belong works in young children’s everyday lives in ECEC.Infants’ social lives in ECEC are most commonly theorised in terms ofattachment theory rather than through the lens of belonging. However, theapplicability of attachment theory, with its almost exclusive focus on dyadic adultinfant relationships, to the complex social environments found in ECEC has been questioned. For example, it has been argued that attachment theory offers insights into only one aspect of infants’ social worlds and that other, broader lenses might reveal more of infants’ complex social abilities. Questions remain about what insights into infants’ social lives in ECEC might be afforded by a belonging lens.The aim of the doctoral project reported in this thesis was to investigate howbelonging ‘worked’ for an infant in ECEC, particularly in relation to his belonging within the multi-age group of children, and what roles he played in how belonging worked. To this end, a 10-month longitudinal case study of belonging was conducted with Peter between the ages of 8 and 18 months in a family day care (FDC) setting. Data generation included video observations of Peter at FDC with accompanying field and reflective notes and a video-stimulated interview with Peter’s educator and parents. The data were brought into an encounter with concepts from Deleuze (such as assemblage, desire and micropolitics) and ideas from existing literature about how belonging operates (such as axes and politics of belonging) in an effort to produce new thinking about how belonging worked for Peter in the FDC setting.The study suggests that belonging for Peter was not just about a dyadicrelationship with a significant adult, but a complex and dynamic political process that was negotiated through interactions and relationships within the whole FDC group. The important roles played by materiality and processes of categorisation in how belonging worked for Peter in ECEC were revealed. Vulnerabilities and competencies were identified in Peter’s capacity to access power and engage in active ways in political processes of belonging. The findings suggest that a political perspective on belonging is important and can contribute to and destabilise our accustomed ways of thinking about the social worlds of children in ECEC. In relation to infants, the politics of belonging have the potential to capture more of the complex and dynamic social worlds of infants beyond those afforded by more common theories of infant sociability such as attachment theory, with implications for theory, curriculum and practice.",
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year = "2015",
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Stratigos, T 2015, 'A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care', Doctor of Philosophy, Charles Sturt University, Australia.

A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care. / Stratigos, Tina.

Australia : Charles Sturt University, 2015. 187 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

TY - THES

T1 - A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care

AU - Stratigos, Tina

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - This thesis is about belonging in infant early childhood education and care (ECEC). A sense of belonging is widely acknowledged as an essential aspect of young children’s wellbeing and plays a central role in a number of early childhood curriculum frameworks internationally, including Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF). However, the limited conceptualisation of belonging in the EYLF and what a focus on belonging might do in ECEC have been questioned. Indeed, belonging tends to be poorly defined and theorised across a range of disciplines and is often used as a taken-for-granted or self-explanatory concept. The EYLF focuses on the experience of belonging, particularly social, cultural and emotional belonging; but ignores the dynamic, political processes through which belonging works. The risk is that the emphasis on belonging, which holds the potential to contribute to social justice perspectives in ECEC, is dismissed simply as a romantic notion. It is important, therefore, to seek more complex ways of thinking about belonging and develop understandings about how belong works in young children’s everyday lives in ECEC.Infants’ social lives in ECEC are most commonly theorised in terms ofattachment theory rather than through the lens of belonging. However, theapplicability of attachment theory, with its almost exclusive focus on dyadic adultinfant relationships, to the complex social environments found in ECEC has been questioned. For example, it has been argued that attachment theory offers insights into only one aspect of infants’ social worlds and that other, broader lenses might reveal more of infants’ complex social abilities. Questions remain about what insights into infants’ social lives in ECEC might be afforded by a belonging lens.The aim of the doctoral project reported in this thesis was to investigate howbelonging ‘worked’ for an infant in ECEC, particularly in relation to his belonging within the multi-age group of children, and what roles he played in how belonging worked. To this end, a 10-month longitudinal case study of belonging was conducted with Peter between the ages of 8 and 18 months in a family day care (FDC) setting. Data generation included video observations of Peter at FDC with accompanying field and reflective notes and a video-stimulated interview with Peter’s educator and parents. The data were brought into an encounter with concepts from Deleuze (such as assemblage, desire and micropolitics) and ideas from existing literature about how belonging operates (such as axes and politics of belonging) in an effort to produce new thinking about how belonging worked for Peter in the FDC setting.The study suggests that belonging for Peter was not just about a dyadicrelationship with a significant adult, but a complex and dynamic political process that was negotiated through interactions and relationships within the whole FDC group. The important roles played by materiality and processes of categorisation in how belonging worked for Peter in ECEC were revealed. Vulnerabilities and competencies were identified in Peter’s capacity to access power and engage in active ways in political processes of belonging. The findings suggest that a political perspective on belonging is important and can contribute to and destabilise our accustomed ways of thinking about the social worlds of children in ECEC. In relation to infants, the politics of belonging have the potential to capture more of the complex and dynamic social worlds of infants beyond those afforded by more common theories of infant sociability such as attachment theory, with implications for theory, curriculum and practice.

AB - This thesis is about belonging in infant early childhood education and care (ECEC). A sense of belonging is widely acknowledged as an essential aspect of young children’s wellbeing and plays a central role in a number of early childhood curriculum frameworks internationally, including Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF). However, the limited conceptualisation of belonging in the EYLF and what a focus on belonging might do in ECEC have been questioned. Indeed, belonging tends to be poorly defined and theorised across a range of disciplines and is often used as a taken-for-granted or self-explanatory concept. The EYLF focuses on the experience of belonging, particularly social, cultural and emotional belonging; but ignores the dynamic, political processes through which belonging works. The risk is that the emphasis on belonging, which holds the potential to contribute to social justice perspectives in ECEC, is dismissed simply as a romantic notion. It is important, therefore, to seek more complex ways of thinking about belonging and develop understandings about how belong works in young children’s everyday lives in ECEC.Infants’ social lives in ECEC are most commonly theorised in terms ofattachment theory rather than through the lens of belonging. However, theapplicability of attachment theory, with its almost exclusive focus on dyadic adultinfant relationships, to the complex social environments found in ECEC has been questioned. For example, it has been argued that attachment theory offers insights into only one aspect of infants’ social worlds and that other, broader lenses might reveal more of infants’ complex social abilities. Questions remain about what insights into infants’ social lives in ECEC might be afforded by a belonging lens.The aim of the doctoral project reported in this thesis was to investigate howbelonging ‘worked’ for an infant in ECEC, particularly in relation to his belonging within the multi-age group of children, and what roles he played in how belonging worked. To this end, a 10-month longitudinal case study of belonging was conducted with Peter between the ages of 8 and 18 months in a family day care (FDC) setting. Data generation included video observations of Peter at FDC with accompanying field and reflective notes and a video-stimulated interview with Peter’s educator and parents. The data were brought into an encounter with concepts from Deleuze (such as assemblage, desire and micropolitics) and ideas from existing literature about how belonging operates (such as axes and politics of belonging) in an effort to produce new thinking about how belonging worked for Peter in the FDC setting.The study suggests that belonging for Peter was not just about a dyadicrelationship with a significant adult, but a complex and dynamic political process that was negotiated through interactions and relationships within the whole FDC group. The important roles played by materiality and processes of categorisation in how belonging worked for Peter in ECEC were revealed. Vulnerabilities and competencies were identified in Peter’s capacity to access power and engage in active ways in political processes of belonging. The findings suggest that a political perspective on belonging is important and can contribute to and destabilise our accustomed ways of thinking about the social worlds of children in ECEC. In relation to infants, the politics of belonging have the potential to capture more of the complex and dynamic social worlds of infants beyond those afforded by more common theories of infant sociability such as attachment theory, with implications for theory, curriculum and practice.

M3 - Doctoral Thesis

PB - Charles Sturt University

CY - Australia

ER -

Stratigos T. A case study of belonging for an infant in family day care. Australia: Charles Sturt University, 2015. 187 p.