The paper explores the change in mass media discussions about extra-familial day care for children under three in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) since the 1970s on the basis of a content analysis of German newspapers. For this period, Mierendorff (2013) noted a readjustment of the relationship between family, ... (Show more)
The paper explores the change in mass media discussions about extra-familial day care for children under three in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) since the 1970s on the basis of a content analysis of German newspapers. For this period, Mierendorff (2013) noted a readjustment of the relationship between family, state and intermediary institutions, resulting in an enormous increase in the number of toddlers in day care facilities, from 20,428 in 1973 to 829,163 in 2020 (Federal Statistical Office, 1974 & 2020).
Combining a qualitative and a quantitative research approach (Görgen & Fangerau, 2017), it is shown that in the 1970s extra-familial day care for toddlers was hardly present in mass media, which can be interpreted as a profound skepticism. If mentioned, crèches were associated with socialist states, from whose supposedly anti-family policies the FRG was discursively strongly distinguished. Furthermore, crèches were evaluated under the perspective of the temporary interruption of the mother-child relationship, on the basis of which pediatricians and psychologists in particular predicted an impairment of early childhood development. According to these ideas, instead of expanding extra-familial day care in the FRG, maternal employment needed to be reduced by financially supporting their child-rearing activities. These reservations slowly disappeared by the late 1990s. They were replaced by interpretative schemes that were very positive about day care under the perspective of enabling maternal employment. Additionally, a more recent interpretative scheme emphasized the right of a toddler to Early Education and Care in a day care center. These developements were closely linked to international research projects like OECD‘s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) or Starting Strong and policies of the European Union like the Barcelona Goals on Child Care.
The article will conclude by contrasting this change in mass media discussions with the social theory of acceleration (Rosa, 2005). The economic development, rising educational qualifications and a new female self-image resulted in the inclusion of more and more women in the labour market. Furthermore, educational processes were placed into early childhood, which increasingly transformed it into a temporal resource in the competition for educational opportunities and social mobility.
Görgen, Arno/ Fangerau, Heiner (2017): Media Conjunctures of Child Protection Debates in the Federal Republic of Germany - Reconstruction of a Culture of Looking and Mindfulness. In: Heiner, Fangerau/ Bagattini, Alexander/ Fegert, Jörg M./ Tippelt, Rudolf/ Viehöver, Willy/ Ziegenhain, Ute (Eds.): Strategies to Prevent Sexual Abuse in Educational Settings. Child Welfare as a Collective Orientation Pattern. Weinheim/Basel: Beltz Juventa.
Mierendorff, Johanna (2013): Normalization Processes of Childhood in the Welfare State. The Example of the Regulation of Early Childhood. In: Kelle, Helga/ Mierendorff, Johanna (Eds.): Standardization and Normalization of Childhood. Weinheim/Basel: Beltz Juventa.
Rosa, Hartmut (2005): Acceleration. The Change of Time Structures in Modernity. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.
Federal Statistical Office (1974): Public Social Welfare. Series 2. Youth Welfare. Mainz: Kohlhammer.
Federal Statistical Office (2020): Childcare Rates of Children under the Age of Three Has Risen to 35 Percent. Press Release Nr. 380. www.destatis.de/DE/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2020/09/PD20_380_225.html;jsessionid=B2D21C7BB29A6484E89DCE8E2BCB3992.internet8722 (Show less)