Contesting early childhood professional identities: A cross-national discussion

Sonja Arndt, Mathias Urban, Colette Murray, Kylie Smith, Elizabeth Swadener, Tomas Ellegaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In this collective article, the authors explore constructions of early childhood practitioners and how they disconnect and reconnect in a global neo-liberal education policy context. The contributions to the conversation provide windows into shifting professional identities across five national contexts: New Zealand, the USA, Ireland, Australia and Denmark. The authors ask who benefits from the notion of distinct professional identities, linked to early childhood education as locally and culturally embedded practice. They conceptualize teachers’ shifting subjectivities, drawing on Kristeva’s philosophical conception of identity as constantly in construction, open and evolving. Arguments for the urgency to counter the global uniformity machine, streamlined curricula, standardized assessment and deprofessionalization are not new. However, the authors wonder whether these arguments are missing something. Does our localized and highly contextualized identity construction enable ‘divide and rule’ politics by global agents such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank and international corporations? The authors’ (preliminary) answer is to build individual and collective professional identities that are grounded in diverse local contexts and in a broader transnational professional (political) consciousness and collective voice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Issues in Early Childhood
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Collectivism
  • identity
  • neo-liberalism
  • professionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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