I föränderliga och slutna rosa rum : en etnografisk studie av kön, ålder och andlighet i en svensk waldorfförskola

Sammanfattning: The aim of this study is to generate new knowledge of the educationalpractice of a pre-school and of how it may contribute to the understandingof doing gender. The ethnographic study examines the place and practiceof a Steiner Waldorf pre-school, and it focuses specifically on materiality,age, spirituality and the intentions of the pre-school teachers. Fieldworkhas been conducted for a period of one and a half years in one pre-school.The methods used are mainly participant observation and interviews withthe pre-school teachers. The results highlight the importance of the materialand spatial dimensions of the pre-school for the constitution of children’sgender. The concepts of performativity and ritualization have beenused as the main analytical tools. The study draws on the scope of theseconcepts as understood by Judith Butler and Catherine Bell.On the basis of the analysis of the empirical material, a theoretical concept,situated decoding of gender, is suggested. It is argued that what atfirst glance can be interpreted as a ‘female universe’, turns out to be a placewhere gender is made non-relevant through an unintentional, yet powerfulongoing process of naturalization. The situated decoding of gender is madepossible because of certain features in this pre-school. Firstly, a repetitivestructure characterizing educational practice has been observed. This isbased on a principle of rhythm reciprocally related to the alternations betweencontinuity and change. Secondly, there is a clear spatial and materialdemarcation that the study argues makes the pre-school an enclosed space,in the sense of being a place of nurturing and protection, where the boundariesbetween home and pre-school are maintained. Thirdly, the performativeforce of the ritualized preschool practices further enhances the decodingof gender. The ritualization highlights and supports the spiritual dimensionin the pedagogy, which sidelines the doing of gender. Fourthly, theteachers contributed to the decoding of gender through the consistency oftheir everyday actions.