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Publication Detail
Democracy and early childhood: diverse representations of democratic education in post-dictatorship Portugal
Abstract
Education systems are often expected to play a key role in developing, maintaining and promoting democratic values and behaviours. This is particularly apparent in Portugal where, after nearly half a century of dictatorship ending in 1974, democracy emerged as a central national aspiration, especially within Early Childhood Education (ECE). However, the ambiguity of the term 'democracy' has allowed policy makers, academics and educators alike to promote diverse understandings of its meaning. This article delves into the ambiguities of democracy, revealing its flexible and context-dependent nature through the diverse representations of democracy encountered in three early years settings in Portugal: a public (state) kindergarten, a not-for-profit kindergarten and a private kindergarten. Using interviews, documentary analysis and observations we illustrate the diverse ways in which democracy was represented in each setting. We classify these representations of democracy as structural, individual and collective. We argue that these reflect the different ideologies of the three types of schools that draw upon particular theoretical understandings and socio-political developments in Portugal's educational history.
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