Playing with the Global : Family Dynamics and International Education in a Marketised Preschool Landscape

Sammanfattning: The surge in popularity of international schools around the world has extended to the domain of Early Childhood Education and Care. In the past few decades, international preschools have be­come more commonplace in marketised educational contexts. This thesis studies families who enrol their children in international preschools in Stockholm, Sweden, framing the rise of these institu­tions as embedded within two aspects of globalisation: the growing worth of transnational assets and the increasing prevalence of transnational families, encompassing those raising their children in foreign countries and those composed of parents from different national backgrounds. The study, departing from Pierre Bourdieu’s relational sociology, examines preschool choice from two angles. The first inspects the social recruitment of international preschools through sta­tistical analysis of individual-level register data concerning families. This analysis considers social characteristics such as education level, income, and migration histories. Secondly, through interviews with middle-class parents, it explores families’ choice-making processes, examining how they navigate their children’s preschool options and ultimately select international preschools. The results show that international preschools cater to families with strong and weak social positions and those with Swedish and foreign backgrounds, which evidences a widespread belief in the value of transnational attributes. However, differences between international preschools’ spe­cific languages highlighted that some languages are more closely linked with social advantage than others. Preschool choice was found to be shaped by complex dynamics, wherein social class, gender, migration experiences, family structures, and parenting cultures intersected with the local context and supply of preschools, both international and not. This first encounter with institutionalised education emerged as a situation where families renegotiated their family identity and priorities. Due to preschool chil­dren’s young age, transnational assets were not always easily transmitted or acquired, especially when parents desired divergent international and national investments. Such acquisition demanded consid­erable efforts in parenting, commuting to international preschools, and altering family dynamics. Preschools were shown to serve as providers of transnational assets and as possible hindrances to the particular forms of internationality families wished to nurture in their children.

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