25 SES 12, Participation: Contexts and Perceptions
Participation is highly valued as a central goal in the Swedish curriculum and the Swedish Education Act (2011), which also includes after-school care. The issue of children’s participation at school has been object for some studies in Sweden (Elvstrand 2009; Aspán2009; Forsberg 2000) but research on children’s participation at after-school care is still lacking.
The aim of the paper is to analyze and describe children’s participation in after-school care everyday practices. This paper embraces some parts of data obtained within the frame of an action-research study on after-school care in six different schools in Sweden during 2013 and 2014 (Närvänen & Elvstrand 2013; Närvänen & Elvstrand, forthcoming). In this paper our observations of everyday activities at after-school care and interviews with children and teachers are analyzed concerning children’s participation. The research question in this paper is: What kind of issues may children influence and what are the possibilities and obstacles as regards their influence at after-school care?
In the study children’s active behavior is emphasized as is the idea of participation as something that is created in interaction with others. Theoretically the study is grounded in interactionist theories on the significance of the definition of the situation that is created in interaction with others, but also on the import of different perspectives on activities as well as their meanings in everyday practices (for example Blumer, 1969). Children’s understanding and interpretation of participation in terms of opportunities and restraints, that is, children’s definition of various situations and possibilities to influence the situations is created with other children as well as with teachers during the activities, but the definition of the situation is also influenced by children’s past and present experiences (Närvänen & Näsman 2007). After-school care may be seen as local culture, and as such it provides opportunity structures (standards for action) for children as well as teachers. Theoretically one point of departure in this study is in understanding of the meanings of the local context and group dynamics with respect to interpretation of action (for example Fine 2010; Harrington & Fine 2006).
Aspán, M. (2009). Delade meningar: om värdepedagogiska invitationer för barns inflytande och inkännande. Diss. Stockholm : Stockholms universitet, 2009. Stockholm. Bath, C. (2009) Where does the actor start and finish? Making the case for an ethnographic action research in educational research. Educational Action Research. 17:2, 213-224. Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall. Elvstrand H. (2009) Delaktighet i skolans vardagsarbete. Diss. Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2009. Linköping. Fine, G.A. (2010) The Sociology of the Local: Action and its Publics. Sociological Theory 28:4 355-376. Forsberg, E. (2000). Elevinflytandets många ansikten (Uppsala studies in education, 93). Uppsala: Uppsala universitet. Hammersley, M. & Atkinsson, P. (2007) Ethnography. Principles in practice. London: Routledge. Harrington, B. & Fine, G.A. (2006) Where the ac tion is: Small Groups and Recent Developments in Sociological Theory. Small Group Research 37 (4) 4-16. MacNaughton et al (2005) Transforming research ethics: The choice and challenges of researching with children. In A. Farrel (Eds.) Ethical research with children 112-123. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Närvänen, AL. & Elvstrand, H. (2013) The everyday practice in after school care Paper for NERA 41st Congress, Reykjavik, Island, 7th-10th March. Närvänen AL & Elvstrand (forthcoming) På väg att (om)skapa fritidshemskulturer. Om visioner, gränsarbete och identiteter. (submitted to Barn. Norsk tidskrift för barnforskning.) Närvänen AL., & Näsman E. (2006) Ålderism och forskningsetik. I Etik i forskningens vardag. Red. Anna-Liisa Närvänen & Elisabet Näsman. NISAL. Linköpings universitet. 129-156. Närvänen AL., & Näsman E. (2007) Age Order and Children’s Agency. I: Helmut Wintersberger, Leena Alanen, Thomas Olk and Jens Qvortrup (eds) Childhood, Generational Order and the Welfare State: Exploring Children's Social and Economic Welfare. Vol. 1 of COST A19: Children's Welfare. University Press of Southern Denmark: Odense, 2007.
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