Practitioners’ constructions of love in the context of Early Childhood Education and Care: a narrative inquiry
AuthorsCousins, Sarah Bernadette
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AbstractThis thesis examines practitioners’ constructions of love in the context of their work in Early Childhood Education and Care. Such constructions are of interest since, although the topic is little talked about in professional contexts, and is infrequently included in policies or training programmes, past and present educational thinkers have emphasised the importance of love in education. The thesis aims to contribute to understanding about how early years practitioners construct their work in ECEC. Previous research in this area is explored; it is argued that such research has not focused on practitioners’ perspectives on loving children, and has focused instead on such topics as the importance of attachments, issues associated with emotional labour, the notion of ethic of care, the complexity of work with young children, and parental perspectives on the topic of love. The review of the literature showed that not only is the word love rarely used in current research about early years, there is also an absence of the word in policy documents and professional standards. A broadly social constructionist perspective has been adopted, emphasising that people draw on their social and cultural resources to construct what they say. The thesis resists positivism, and draws on pragmatism as a philosophical perspective and postmodernism as a critical stance. Constructions on the topic of love in ECEC were investigated through individual, unstructured interviews with five practitioners in senior positions in five contrasting early years settings in London. The participants talked about love with very little prompting. Analysis of the data showed that they constructed love as important for child development, expressed through touch, and as natural. They talked about love in the sense of loving to be with the children, involving them as full human beings, and as different in familial and non-familial contexts. The participants said their training did not prepare them for love. They also said very little about policy. The thesis argues that further research on the topic should be carried out and disseminated more widely in order to facilitate a better understanding about the importance of love in ECEC settings.
CitationCousins, S.B. (2015) 'Practitioners’ constructions of love in the context of Early Childhood Education and Care: a narrative inquiry'. Doctor of Education thesis. University of Sheffield.
PublisherUniversity of Sheffield
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education, Early Childhood Education School of Education, University of Sheffield
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