Master Tove Lafton
Title of dissertation:
The thesis is situated in the field of Early Childhood Education. The overarching theme of the project is the (re)constructions of early childhood practices when connecting to technology.
The study is ethnographically inspired, guided by the idea that new concepts and understanding captures events, and therefore emanate from the challenges specific to a (specific) field. Despite the ethnographically inspired fieldwork this thesis is not empirically driven, but has rather an abductive approach. Actor-network-thinking (ANT) is applied as a theoretical approach to examine the arena of digital practice.
The contribution to the research field is threefold. Firstly the thesis points out how meetings with practices, texts and overarching ideas creates movement in the researcher's gaze. Secondly the thesis examines these different gazes by considering them optical lenses. Previous research in the field have developed certain findings and responses. This text aims at showing that the optics and optical instruments have a bearing on what emerges from the insights about certain phenomena. Some of these elements are elaborated in the three papers, answering the following research questions:
Which contextual representations are important for building, shaping and constructing digital practices in early childhood education?
How to elaborate digital practices as a dynamic concept expressing an event of creative work of forces rather than an essence of contents?
What ethical implications emerge, and what forces are activated, when early years practitioners make use of padlets in documenting everyday life of early childhood education?
The third contribution of this thesis is associated with concurrency in flat ontologies, and demonstrates how ANT enables connections between various optical instruments. Diffraction, reflection and refraction are typically treated as lenses the researcher must choose between or prefer. However, the idea of simultaneity allows the different lenses to be put into play within the same place and time so as to spot ambiguity with(in) the material.
This thesis focuses on insights rather than findings where more complex and differently nuanced questions are raised rather than answered. In this sense, the thesis can be understood as identifying ‘beginnings’ where forces of action are in relation with one another where ‘something’ is produced. It is argued that this ‘something’ offers forms of knowledge which in turn informs different practices within the Kindergarten.