Marianne Fenech and Jennifer Sumsion, Early Childhood Teachers and Regulation: Complicating Power Relations Using a Foucauldian Lens, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, June 2007 vol. 8 no. 2 109-122
This article both supports and complicates the positioning of reconceptualists who frame the regulation of early childhood services as repressive. Drawing on Foucault’s construction of power and, in particular, his notion of an ‘analytics of power’, the authors analyse findings from an Australian study investigating university-qualified early childhood teachers’ perceptions of regulation. The authors contend that whilst most participants in this study experienced regulation as constraining, they resisted perceived threats to themselves and quality practices in ways that problematize a reconceptualist repressive construction of regulation. The authors show, firstly, that teachers strategically positioned regulation as an ally so as to resist perceived threats to themselves and to children; and secondly, that they strategically positioned themselves to resist perceived adversarial aspects of regulation. Exercising agency in these ways meant that regulation was experienced as enabling and its constraining potential somewhat mitigated. After highlighting the role critical thinking plays in early childhood teachers’ exercising of agency through resistance, the authors conclude by urging early childhood teachers to contest not only the elements of regulation they perceive to be constraining, but also the contextual factors that can influence how early childhood teachers view regulation.