Doing Family through Partnerships and Shared Care – Parallel Session 4 – Thursday, September 23rd – 13:45

Doing Shared Care in ECEC Institutions – Göbel/Bollig (Luxembourg, Trier/LUX, GER)

Parents in Multilocal Families – Balancing the everyday life – Degen (Zurich/SUI)

Conflictual Collaboration about Care for Children – Kousholt (Aarhus/DEN)

Parents as Learning Facilitators. Early childhood education and care centres and home learning in families – Dannesboe (Aarhus/DEN)


Doing Shared Care in ECEC Institutions – Göbel, Sabrina / Bollig, Sabine (Luxembourg, Trier/LUX, GER)

Socio-political efforts to arrange a ‘successful’ childhood demonstrate that day-care facilities are primarily understood as places of learning and education that complement, compensate and support the family. Based on this educational focus, ECEC services and families are increasingly ‘taken into account’ towards their educational function (Leira & Saraceno, 2008; Gillies, 2012), what results in hierarchisation or juxtaposition of educational and care tasks and practices. The closure of day-care facilities at the beginning of the pandemic has brought the issue of ‘Care’ as a function of ECEC out of its shadowy existence, although the focus here was on the mode of care in a sense of supervision of children in an employment-focused perspective. However, the still dynamic and contested role of ECEC services in the pandemic point to the fact that the multidimensional ways of caring for children and doing family involves close reciprocal relations between organisational requirements and the everyday demands of family life-worlds. Hence, care is not only a central function of ECEC (Van Laere et al., 2018), but also a tasks that takes place as “shared care“ (Singer 1998) at the interface between the public and private spheres. Accordingly, and on an everyday basis, this ‘shared care‘ is a preconditional collaborative task between family and ECEC, that demands a multiply of mutual negotiations of private/public boundaries. Based on observations from the ethnographic research Project PARTNER, this presentation, thus, asks in a first step, how parents and ECEC-staff divide responsibilities between day care and the family and what divergent understandings of care are expressed therein. In a second step, it is examined how everyday practices of ‘caring together’ in ECEC institutions are organised, and how they are influenced by the generational and institutional orders at the crossroads to family. Our findings suggests that diverse practical definitions and manifestations of day care – family relations are continuously negotiated through such practices what might result in particular ways of reproducing social inequality as well. (PARTNER is an alliance Project between Trier University/Gutenberg-University Mainz, BMBF, 2019-2021, FKZ 01NV1812B).

Parents in Multilocal Families – Balancing the everyday life – Degen, Muriel (Zurich/SUI)

In Switzerland, around 90,000 children are currently growing up in multilocal households. These children from separated, patchwork and rainbow families commute between biological and social parents, siblings, half-siblings and other family members. In multilocal family arrangements, the participants develop their own practices of everyday life, of transitions, territorializations, connections and demarcations, which are reflected spatially, but also in the subjective perception of family relationships. In my current PhD project “Doing multilocal family – Growing up at multiple places” I investigate how children and their separated parents experience their everyday life. With qualitative methodological approaches, interviews with all family members are combined with ethnographic approaches such as go-alongs and photographs of the children. In this context, I am interested in how parenthood is lived and organised in multilocal settings. When parents separate, they decide not only about their own future living conditions, but also for their children. This “multilocalisation” means a process of social, emotional and spatial reorganization of the family system. In this sense, “family” is an ongoing process of negotiation and balancing, which – oriented on practical theoretical approaches – can be described as “doing multilocal family”. Children influence and construct the “doing family” and “doing home” with their own knowledge and experiences; often they are involved and not only passively affected by family arrangements. Parenthood across households means finding new family roles. Inevitably, this will also involve addressing how family gender roles are defined, where they are persistent, and where and to what extent they may be transformed. In this context, it seems interesting to see how joint physical custody clashes with normative concepts of motherhood and fatherhood and how those involved arrange and position their “atypical” parenthood in this respect. Using insights from the case studies, I would like to examine the reasons why parents of multilocal families come in touch with social services and how they perceive these: Sometimes social services are considered to be supportive in processes of “multilocalisation” when they help to find agreements, secure financial arrangements and clarify paternities. Sometimes, however, social organisations can also be disabling by e.g. cementing gender roles, referring to normative family concepts that are perceived as unsuitable by the families concerned. In my contribution I would like to identify, analyse and classify these junctures with social services found in the empirical data.

Conflictual Collaboration about Care for Children – Kousholt, Dorte (Aarhus/DEN)

This paper explores how situated conflicts in everyday practices can be analyzed in the light of historical and political struggles about societal institutions (such as ECEC centres and schools). The paper addresses the societal and political changes in parental responsibilities and changing conditions for parenthood. Such changes comprise an increased designation of parents as the key actors in relation to the child’s development and learning; a process often referred to as an intensified ‘parental determinism’. Further, there is an intensified focus on parents as both the sources and solutions to problems in children’s lives, which risk neglecting that parental care is embedded in the daily collaboration between professionals and parents. Parents’ agency and possibilities for action are interwoven with structural and institutional condition and collaboration with various professionals. Taking a point of departure in the concept conflictual collaboration care processes and collaboration about care tasks between parents and between parents and professionals are analyzed as inherently conflictual. The concept conflictual collaboration highlights how various participants collaborate from different positions and have different perspectives on the ‘same’ social practice. As such, the different perspectives of the participants involved in care for children can be analyzed as connected through their involvement in a “common matter” – and conflicts become a potentiality linked to engagement in shared care.

Parents as Learning Facilitators. Early childhood education and care centres and home learning in families – Dannesboe, Karen Ida (Aarhus/DEN)

This paper explores how Danish early childhood education and care (ECEC) centers promote home learning in families as a tool to improve small children’s learning. In many western countries investment in small children are seen as crucial for the development of future citizens. This is also the case in Denmark. In Danish ECEC centers, children’s social relations and play have been core aspects of the pedagogical work. However, since the 90’s there has been an increased political focus on early learning, and recently, ECEC institutions have been assigned with the task of improving children’s learning at home. Based on a collective ethnographic research project on learning groups and home learning technologies (games, books, etc.) in collaboration between ECEC professionals and parents this paper explores the consequences of a strong learning focus for contemporary parenthood. How does this focus on learning alter the role of parents? How do ECEC professionals’ more or less vague suggestions, recommendations and explicit instructions to parents promote an idea of parents as learning facilitators? In answering these questions, I discuss the implications and reconfigurations of dominant cultural norms of being a good collaborating parent and contemporary parenthood within the Danish Welfare state.