Child’s Family? Discursive Constructions By Finnish Childcare Administrators

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Petteri EEROLA, University of Tampere, Finland
Maiju PAANANEN, University of Tampere, Finland
Katja REPO, University of Tampere, Finland
The diversification of family forms in which children live has been argued to be a major global trend. For example, taking Finland as an example of a western society, children live in various family configurations, including LGBTIQ-parent families, single-parent families, adoption families and foster families, to mention just a few, in addition to families comprising two parents of different genders and their biological children. In addition, increased immigration has enhanced the diversity of Finnish family forms over the last two decades. Despite this diversity, it has been argued that Finnish family and childcare policies continue to be mainly targeted to native Finnish two-parent families (with different-gender parents) in which the mother has the role of primary caregiver. To address these issues, we report on and discuss how childcare administrators discursively construct ‘family’ in their accounts. The data, which comprise qualitative interviews with municipal childcare administrators (n=47) conducted in ten municipalities across Finland in 2016, are analyzed by applying a discourse analytic framework. Based on initial readings of the data, we hypothesize that while the diversity of the family forms children live in is recognized, two-hetero-parent native Finn families with biological children are often assumed when administrators are speaking about family. This could pose a major threat to the equality of children living in different family forms in, e.g., access to early childhood education and care services, and thus needs to be taken seriously.