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Children's Participation in After-School Care: Visions and Realities
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6933-5667
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3596-4809
2014 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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).


Ethnographic research methods are used in the study (Bath 2009), as our interest is on issues concerning interaction and relationships, and the meaning making processes. Understanding local cultures requires being present at the site of the study and documenting what is going on between people in everyday practices (Hammersley & Atkinsson 2007). Consequently, we have conducted observations during one semester at the after-school care. The observations are conducted by the researchers, and documented by writing field notes. Observations are complemented by photographs (taken by children), documents, and interviews with children and teachers. Our ambition has been to develop child centered methods which give children opportunities to express their experiences and even to influence the agenda of the study (MacNaughton et al 2005; Närvänen & Näsman 2006). The material is analyzed by using thematic analyses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Children's participation, democracy, deficiency discourses, culture
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Social Sciences, Sociology Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112140OAI: diva2:763753
ECER, European Conference in Educational Research. Porto, Portugal, 2nd-6th August, 2014. Network: 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Fritidshem i Framtiden
Available from: 2014-09-17 Created: 2014-11-17 Last updated: 2015-06-02Bibliographically approved

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Elvstrand, HeleneNärvänen, Anna Liisa
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