Förskolans formande : Statlig reglering 1944–2008

Sammanfattning: Preschool is a central part of Swedish family life. The manner in which the state regulates preschool through laws, ordinances, and various kinds of written objectives has an impact on many people in the Swedish society. The thesis examines the development of preschool state regulation from the 1940s until 2008. The starting point of the study is a draft for a new Education Act, put forward in 2003, which proposed that preschool should be integrated into the school system as a new form of school. The purpose of the study is to generate knowledge about the state regulation of Swedish preschool, and how it has contributed to the shaping of preschool as a societal institution. Questions considered in the analysis are how regulation delimits preschool as a social category, what role this regulation assigns preschool in relation to other actors and societal institutions involved in early childhood education and care, and what principles this regulation is based on. The study has evolved within the research tradition of curriculum theory as developed in studies in educational politics. The analysis is carried out as a text analysis, where the concepts of boundary work, official classification and activity system serve as important analytical tools. Texts produced within the formal chain of decision and legislation: directives for committees, government white papers, ministerial task forces, bills, legislative texts etc., form the empirical foundation for the study. The analysis shows that economic as well as legal and ideological governing instruments are used in the shaping of the framework of preschool. These frameworks are indicated in the form of different boundary markers that delimit preschool as a specific category and arrange it in relation to other categories. The boundaries indicated by these boundary markers have been subject to extensive discussion during the formulation process. Through this boundary work, preschool has been constructed as a full time preschool, commissioned to provide both education and care. The boundaries of this commission are in some respects indistinct and contain several overlapping elements with regards to family, social services and school. At the same time, preschool holds a fixed core with more distinct boundaries, in the form of a part time public preschool delimited by time and age and regulated by far-reaching legislation regarding the rights of children to attend. Owing to this construction, preschool may balance several different and partly contradictory demands placed on it by other institutions and by different interest groups, while at the same time maintaining a core of identity of its own. In that sense, preschool may be described as a boundary object. Thus, when it is suggested that preschool should constitute a form of school and be placed in the more formal regulation structures of the school system, the balance of this construction is challenged.