Towards the marketization of early childhood education and care? Recent developments in Sweden and the United Kingdom
Extensive public debate is being waged across mature welfare states as to whether social services are best provided by the state or the market. This article examines developments in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) policy in Sweden and the United Kingdom, identifying trends towards marketization and universalization of ECEC that suggest a complex picture of competing policy logics and goals in the restructuring of welfare states. This article first discusses two models of early-years provision, the market model, and the universal model, outlining underlying assumptions, tensions, and implications of market and state provision of ECEC. A comparison of recent reforms in Sweden and the UK highlights how similar ideas and trends play out differently in different national contexts. In Sweden an integrated public ‘educare' programme gradually developed over time, and market mechanisms introduced in the 1990s have so far had limited effect on the system overall. In the UK ideas about universal early childhood education became influential as part of a new social-investment agenda in the 1990s but have, owing to their restricted implementation, not fundamentally altered the existing childcare market. Historical policy trajectories continue to matter, yet tensions and incoherencies between policies can open spaces for change.
Copyright (c) 2011 Ingela Naumann
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).