Sorting shapes or connecting dots? Local enactments of globalization in early childhood education in Denmark

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This article explores how complex globalization processes play out in early childhood education (ECE) in Denmark. The article builds on two concepts of globalization: First, we understand globalization as the ways in which transnational educational policy discourses characterized by neoliberal pedagogical values affect national and local policies. Second, we understand globalization as ways in which cultural diversity as a product of global migration processes is discursively constructed as constituting specific “problems” for early childhood education. Drawing on the first concept of globalization, the article explores how a key policy document, The Strengthened Learning Plan (the SLP), is recontextualized and “put into action” in practice, and whether it leads to practices characterized by globalized neoliberal values at the cost of Nordic pedagogical ideals. We show that the SLP is enacted in very different ways in different centers, giving very different emphasis to globalized and Nordic ideals, respectively, and thus that the globalization of Danish ECE is by no means unambiguous. Looking more closely into the different enactments of the SLP, it becomes clear that they are closely connected to discursive constructions of the demography of the center: Constructions of ethnic minority children draw on culturalized categorizations where children are seen as vulnerable and as lacking, whereas constructions of ethnic majority children draw on non-culturalized categorizations where children are seen as natural and resourceful. Drawing on the second concept of globalization, we argue that the different enactments of early childhood policy build on connections between constructions of cultural diversity (or the lack thereof) and the construction of pedagogical “problems.” As such, the different enactments of the SLP—including those that prioritize Nordic ideals—represent globalization in the sense of constructions of cultural diversity that pose specific problems for early childhood education. Building on these findings, the article argues that the two globalization processes intersect, mutually shaping each other, and affecting how policies are enacted in pedagogical practice.

Translated title of the contributionAt sortere former eller forbinde punkter: lokale gørelser af den styrkede pædagogiske læreplan
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)261-275
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • children and youth
  • social work and social conditions


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