Social Icons facebook Twitter YouTube Kanal Instagram
Bielefeld Graduate School
in History and Sociology
Logo der Einrichtung
Logo der Einrichtung

Miriam Tag

The world cultural construction of 'early childhood' and 'the young child'

The World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien 1990 declared that "Learning begins at birth. This calls for early childhood care and initial education." Since Jomtien, and moreover since the formulation of early childhood education as the first of six Education for All goals in 2000 in Dakar, early childhood increasingly becomes an issue for national policy making world wide as well as part of the work of International Governmental and Nongovernmental Organizations, of specific scientific communities and professional networks.
However, the construction of early childhood as a distinct stage in the life cycle can be dated back to the 18th century, and was already addressed in international politics by the League of Nations and international conferences on education and welfare from the 1920s onwards. My dissertation analyses the globalization of early childhood semantics as a part of world culture formation. World culture is conceptualized by Meyer et al. as a cultural order from which sense making 'flows', diffusing institutions (ideas, rules, and norms) originally developed in the European context of the 18th and 19th century. The concept of 'global semantics' can be useful in order to clarify the concept of world culture and analyse its formation, taking semantic variations as well as conflicting expectations of meaning in form of heterogeneities between different world cultural models and principles into consideration. With reference to Foucault's discourse theory and analytical tools from linguistics (semiotics), I analyse to development and internal differentiation of the semantics of early childhood with a special interest in the rules of formation which allow for the global stabilization of a construction of early childhood as a distinct and meaningful phase in life course. Starting with global frameworks and declarations concerning children, a first part of my analysis captures the internal differentiations of this construction such as the paradox of increasing autonomy and control of the young child. In a second part, I analyze the strategies and rules by which cultural constructions may become stabilized as ?global semantics?. Three processes seem to be involved in stabilizing a global semantics: First, strategies of formation of world culture such as theorization of knowledge and the creation of consent formula, universalizing the child as a collective symbol, allow for the development of a potentially global horizon for communication about early childhood. Second, modes of observations (monitoring, reporting) are established, which are often followed, third, by the creation of hierarchical frameworks of comparison (numerical representations, statistics, international league tables). Thus the corpus of my analyses is not only textual but also captures numerical (and eventually visual) representations. A third part of my dissertation analyzes the historical formation (development and stabilization) of the semantics of early childhood by referring to semantics used by precursors of world polity such as internationalization movements and international conferences (especially in the League of Nations), and the construction of early childhood in the evolving disciplines of science and in pedagogical theories. In all parts, world-regional influences on early childhood constructions will be taken into account.

-> weitere Meldungen


Current volume InDi

Gefördert durch:

Exzellenzinitiative zur Förderung der Hochschulen
(1. Förderphase 2007-2012,
2. Förderphase 2012-2017)

Gefördert durch: