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Parental leaves and early childhood education and care: From mapping the terrain to exploring the environment


  • Moss, Peter


Parental leave and early childhood education and care have gained a high profile in child and family policy fields, and both have been the subject of substantial cross-national mapping, describing and comparing their main features across a range of countries. This article provides overviews on parental leave and early childhood services in affluent countries, and reflections on this mapping. The article argues that such mapping is important and can still be taken further, to give ‘thicker’ descriptions of the policy terrain, but that more of another, related activity is required: exploration of the environment, using maps as one contextual tool to better understand what goes on within this terrain. It offers suggestions for comparative exploration of different national environments including the comparative study of pedagogical theories, values and practices. While the article takes a broadly positive, even enthusiastic, view of comparative work, it acknowledges that it has its dangers too, not least the problems that may arise from the increasing and uncritical acceptance of English as an academic lingua franca. In conclusion, the case is made for comparative research as an instrument for sustaining democracy, through its contribution to critical thought and awareness of alternatives.

Suggested Citation

  • Moss, Peter, 2012. "Parental leaves and early childhood education and care: From mapping the terrain to exploring the environment," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 523-531.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:3:p:523-531
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.10.018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Olivier Thévenon, 2011. "Family Policies in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 37(1), pages 57-87, March.
    2. Gaëlle Amerijckx & Claire Perrine Humblet, 2008. "Typologies et Indicateurs des Systèmes d'Education et d'Accueil des Jeunes Enfants (EAJE) en Europe," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 51(2/3), pages 317-345.
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