Troubling the ‘Dispositif’: moving beyond the macro-level to co-construct meaningful early childhood pedagogies

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper


This paper makes a contribution to the theme ‘Quality with whom’ by considering how democratic educators might be supported in a system focused on competences. The paper challenges the dispositif: increasingly dominant constructs of ‘high quality’ early childhood pedagogy focused on homogenous child outcomes. A capability based alternative is posited (Sen, 1985). The paper explores how findings from the Young Children As Researchers (YCAR) project (Murray, 2013) suggest particular functionings to support the co-construction of authentic, localised pedagogies by young children, their families and early childhood practitioners. The research aimed to conceptualise ways in which young children are researchers and may be considered researchers. Alongside the capability approach, the YCAR study adopted a ‘new’ sociological stance to position children as agents of knowledge construction at home and in their educational settings. Accordingly, YCAR was framed by a value orientation committed to social justice, and guided by emancipatory, participatory and inductive approaches, encouraging collaboration of young children aged 4-8 years (n=138), their practitioners (n=15) and selected parents (n=10). A qualitative pluralistic ‘jigsaw’ methodology emerged, shaped by - and conducted according to - BERA’s revised ethical guidelines (2004; 2011). Nine epistemological factors were identified in young children’s everyday behaviours: offering empirical evidence of functionings to inform the development of bespoke pedagogies by – and for - young children, their families and early childhood practitioners. It is argued that such pedagogies have the potential to be meaningful and fulfilling for all involved, but rely on ‘light touch’ policy alongside informed parents and practitioners.


ConferenceInternational Conference on Diversity, Equality and Social Justice in Early Childhood (DECET) 2015: No Quality without Equality in ECEC
Period5/06/15 → …
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Jane Murray is Associate Professor and Co-Director at the Centre for Education and Research, University of Northampton, UK. She has published extensively on early childhood education and social inclusion, and is Editor of the International Journal of Early Years Education.


  • Early childhood education
  • Young Children As Researchers
  • capability approach
  • early childhood pedagogy
  • social justice


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