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Sammanfattning: Previous research studies have shown that in their address and behaviour towards girls and boys, pre-school staff apply stereotyped gender concepts, thus reinforcing rather than challenging stereotypes. The present thesis therefore focuses on which of children’s positions that are accepted or that face resistance from the staff. In this way, children’s gender-based "identity-formation" can be critically analyzed based on different possible descriptions of how it is to be a girl or a boy, and what unaware assumptions about gender representations that in this way may be made in different ways by both children and adults.The theoretical point of departure is feminist poststructuralism; and the analysis focuses on variations found between the groups of girls and boys, as well as within these groups, and within individuals. The empirical data consists of video-taped sessions from two teams working with children aged 3-5, and focus groups interviews with the adult. Then different "readings" of the empirical material have been conducted based on different assumptions (discourses); i.e. assuming that girls and boys "really" are different or equal, different behaviours will appear as more or less obvious and natural. By showing that several different discourses are present at the same time, gender-based "identity-formation" is described as a very complex process. The analyzed situations show that girls and boys in pre-school are defined and treated in stereotyped ways, however, there is a large hidden variation of how different girls and different boys positions themselves in different contexts. Pre-school teachers thus work actively to distinguish between girls and boys based on how they are being perceived as either girls or boys. Teachers’ expectations then become decisive of how different children are addressed and treated in different situations. To conclude, the pedagogical consequences of this are discussed with regard to gender equality work in which also alternative discourses are formulated.
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