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Ellmer, A. Caring for Equality? Administering Ambivalence in Kindergarten. Sociologus, 70(1), 39-55.
Ellmer, Anna "Caring for Equality? Administering Ambivalence in Kindergarten" Sociologus 70.1, , 39-55.
Ellmer, Anna: Caring for Equality? Administering Ambivalence in Kindergarten, in: Sociologus, vol. 70, iss. 1, 39-55, [online]


Caring for Equality? Administering Ambivalence in Kindergarten

Ellmer, Anna

Sociologus, Vol. 70 (2020), Iss. 1 : pp. 39–55

1 Citations (CrossRef)

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Universität Wien, Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, Universitätsstraße 7, A-1010 Wien

Cited By

  1. Intimate States

    Vollebergh, Anick

    de Koning, Anouk

    Marchesi, Milena

    Current Anthropology, Vol. 62 (2021), Iss. 6 P.741 [Citations: 18]


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In recent years, kindergartens in Austria have increasingly become the target of an ambivalent politics of belonging and difference. Looking at institutional childcare practices as processes of doing and undoing differences, this article explores how kindergarten staff translate societal missions of promoting both ‘integration’ and ‘diversity’ into practice by reflecting particularly on the role of bureaucratic practices within this dynamic. Ethnographic studies on the organisational dimensions of institutional childcare have mostly focused on their normalising effects. Based on ethnographic material from two Viennese kindergartens, I show that universalist claims to childcare as a vehicle for belonging are important. Yet, care and administration in kindergarten hardly proceed in clear-cut ways. Pedagogical/bureaucratic practices unfold at the nexus of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’, as well as ‘private’ and ‘public’ spheres, mediated by an ambivalent normative universe and within limited institutional resources. Using a case of staff negotiating kinship practices in one family, the article traces their interplay and shows how bureaucratic practices become entangled with gendered constructions of cultural difference.

Keywords: Bureaucracy, childcare, kinship, doing difference, gender

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Anna Ellmer: Caring for Equality? Administering Ambivalence in Kindergarten 1
Abstract 1
1. Introduction 1
2. Doing and Undoing Differences with Bureaucracy 3
3. Entangled Practices: Care and Bureaucracy in Kindergarten 5
4. The Professional Ethos: Omitting, Appreciating and Problematising Culture 6
5. A ‘Forced Marriage’ and a ‘Naughty Boy’ 9
5.1 A Spy Turned Excellent Intern 9
5.2 A Little Brother Turned Pasha 1
6. Conclusion 1
References 1