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The meaning of home-based childcare in an era of quality: childminding in an inner London borough and the encounter with professionalisation

O'Connell, R.E.; (2008) The meaning of home-based childcare in an era of quality: childminding in an inner London borough and the encounter with professionalisation. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Childminding is popularly characterised as childcare in a home-like environment. In the wake of the National Childcare Strategy, and with an emphasis on childcare 'quality', the state is increasingly constructing childminders as Early Years Professionals who happen to work in their own homes. This thesis is an attempt to explore registered childminders' negotiation of the meaning and practice of their work in the context of contemporary developments in childcare policy. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in an Inner London Borough (2003 - 2005). Methods employed ranged from participant observation, the collection of ephemera, interview and sorting exercises, to the improvisation of the raffle as a research technique. Following consideration of the social and historical context of childminding's popularity, the thesis explores some of the varied meanings that childminders bring to and gain from their work. Focussing on the spatial, social and temporal dimensions of the home environment it examines in ethnographic detail the qualities and negotiations that characterise childminders work betwixt and between 'private' and 'public' domains. Childminders’ performance of professionalism is explored and some ways in which women negotiate tensions between internal beliefs and external demands in this context are considered. It is argued that in their encounter with the 'technology of quality' childminders are reproduced as deficient. Tradeoffs associated with childminders' engagement with the hegemonic model of professionalisation are shown to have continuities with broader feminist debates over equality/difference and care/justice. It is suggested that childminders' work is characterised by the negotiation of contradictions. Informed by and hoping to inform a focus in feminism on the empirical study of care work, the thesis also hopes to contribute toward a growing anthropology of public policy as well as to add childminders' perspectives to the burgeoning critical reappraisal of the hegemonic mode of professionalisation in the Early Years.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The meaning of home-based childcare in an era of quality: childminding in an inner London borough and the encounter with professionalisation
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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