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Unfreezing the discursive hegemonies underpinning current versions of “social sustainability” in ECE policies in Anglo–Celtic, Nordic and Continental contexts

Sadownik, AR, Bakken, Y, Gabi, J ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3629-0719, Višnjić‐jevtić, A and Koutoulas, J (2021) Unfreezing the discursive hegemonies underpinning current versions of “social sustainability” in ECE policies in Anglo–Celtic, Nordic and Continental contexts. Sustainability (Switzerland), 13 (9). p. 4758.

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Abstract

Social sustainability is linked to finding new ways of living together and strengthening social capital and participation, as well as to social justice and equity in societies, and it is becoming increasingly important for diverse multicultural societies. In this article, we trace understandings of social sustainability as established in Early Childhood Education (ECE) policy documents by following the chains of meaning connected to sense of belonging, local place and cultural diversity and through ECE collaboration with children’s parents/caregivers. Critical discourse analysis has been applied to trace the chains of meaning attached to these concepts in ECE steering documents in Australia, Croatia, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK (England, Scot-land, Wales and Northern Ireland). Such analysis shows different ways in which the ECE polices indirectly work with social sustainability, as well as create critical distance from the sets of meanings established in each country (by proving a chain of meaning established in the policy documents of another country). In conclusion, we do not advocate in favour of any of the chains of meaning but argue for continual reflection and reflexivity, and we see research to be a particularly significant arena in which to unfreeze the taken for granted and sustainable notion.

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