Consumers, clients or participants? Formal and informal collaboration with parents

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceCommunication


The aim of the research was to investigate how neoliberal forms of regulation change the content and form of collaboration between families and ECE services. Former research found that the marketisation of ECEC changes the former client/expert relationship to a consumer/service provider relationship. Based on theory of everyday life and concepts of invisible, reproductive work, rhythm and coherence, the study explored and compared expectations parents raise to the ECEC services in formal and informal settings for collaboration. The qualitative study used ethnographic methods to study every day conversations between parents and professionals and interview with staff to get insight in formal and informal forms of collaboration as stated by the research aims. Ethical considerations involved how participants may be recognisable even though they were anonymised, but this was overcome by leaving out some information due to the general relevance of the examples. The study found that in formal settings for collaboration, such as meetings, parents tend to raise demands for visible, pedagogical activities related to school readiness, thus positioning themselves as consumers. However, in the daily, informal collaboration, such as conversations during pick-up time, the parents tend to be more concerned with their child´s wellbeing and basic social and physiological needs, sometimes positioning the staff as experts but more often like equal participants in a common project. The project points to the political and practical need to value informal conversations as part of the professional work and as central in a joint project to create rhythmic coherence in children’s lives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date30 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2018
EventEECERA 28th conference: Early Childhood Education, families and communities - Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 28 Aug 201831 Aug 2018
Conference number: 28


ConferenceEECERA 28th conference
LocationBudapest University of Technology and Economics


  • Formal and informal collaboration
  • Everyday conversations
  • Invisible work
  • Ethnography
  • Wellbeing

Cite this