Kategoriseringar av barn i förskoleåldern : Styrning & administrativa processer

Sammanfattning: The present thesis investigates, analyses and critically discusses the manner in which children with special needs are categorised in the Swedish preschool. The emergence of the category and its construction depends on a number of “truths” concerning children, related to historical and cultural processes in society. A main focus of the thesis is to investigate how legitimacy is established for the practice of defining deviance among preschoolers, and analyse the knowledge and rationalities that prevail in discursive practice. As part of this, the ways of defining children with special needs as a group are clarified, as well as the administrative procedures for handling their cases throughout the organisation. The study combines two strands within discourse analysis: “classical” discourse analysis with origins in Foucaults work and critical disourse analysis (CDA). The concept governmentality was used to make an analytical matrix, adapted to prescool practices. Data has been collected in a disadvantaged district belonging to the conurbation of a Swedish major city. Empirical material includes recording of an administrative meeting, application documents, interviews and national policy documents. The study shows that the categorisation have different effects and functions in different contexts. Implemental perspective: The practice of development evaluation of preschoolers has increased the written documentation, often based on techniques originating in compulsory school. These techniques are frequently ill adapted to the curriculum of the Swedish preschool, which emphasise the competent child and clearly encourages the child`s agency in preschool activities. Evaluation techniques also play the role of an incentive driving towards increasing individualisation. Educators tend to distance themselves from generalising concepts, and often assume a relational standpoint to defining deviance in children, but adapt to techniques that require a more individually based practice, which places the problems with the child. When parents consent to submit application documents, power is transformed to a range of professional actors, and a client-expert relationship is established. Administrative perspective: On the management level, the child primarily is subject to an economical rationality, and is expected to fit into existing preschool activities. The empirical material of this thesis does not display the inclusive perspective which occupies such a prominent position in special education discussions concerning compulsory school. The administrative conversation observed in the study was characterised by a quantitative approach, concerning resources for children who are considered deviant. Discussions at the meeting did not concern any aspect of the quality of the support offered, and the relationship between children and educators was reduced to a number of resouce hours per child. Societal (professional) perspectives: In an analysis of how resources for children with special needs are allocated in the city district, results will depend on which type of knowledge and rationalities are judged to be legitimate. Children who received a diagnosis delivered by a physician, or who are in the course of being investigated at the habilitation centre, obtain the largest support measures. A pattern supported by national policy documents, who constitute a steering mechanism towards implementation in educational establishments.Development evaluations in preschool can be seen as a step in Foucaults term “psycomplex”, where psychology is manifested in the institutions dealing with preschool children and their activities. The close historical link between pedagogy and developmental psychology, combined with a general development in society towards giving the individual perspective a central position, may contribute to the dominance of psychiatric assesments in explaining deviance among preschoolers.

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