University of Oulu

Puroila, AM., Juutinen, J., Viljamaa, E. et al. Young Children’s Belonging in Finnish Educational Settings: an Intersectional Analysis. IJEC 53, 9–29 (2021).

Young children’s belonging in Finnish educational settings : an intersectional analysis

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Author: Puroila, Anna‑Maija1; Juutinen, Jaana1; Viljamaa, Elina1;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Pentti Kaiteran katu 1, 90570 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-06-04


The study draws on a relational and intersectional approach to young children’s belonging in Finnish educational settings. Belonging is conceptualized as a multilevel, dynamic, and relationally constructed phenomenon. The aim of the study is to explore how children’s belonging is shaped in the intersections between macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of young children’s education in Finland. The data consist of educational policy documents and ethnographic material generated in educational programs for children aged birth to 8 years. A situational mapping framework is used to analyze and interpret the data across and within systems levels (macro-level; meso-level; and micro-level). The findings show that the landscape in which children’s belonging is shaped and the intersections across and within the levels are characterized by the tensions between similarities and differences, majority and minorities, continuity and change, authority and agency. Language used, practices enacted, and positional power emerge as the (re)sources through which children’s (un)belonging is actively produced.

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L’étude s’appuie sur une approche relationnelle et intersectionnelle de l’appartenance chez de jeunes enfants dans des contextes éducatifs finlandais. L’appartenance est conceptualisée comme un phénomène à plusieurs niveaux, dynamique, et construit de manière relationnelle. L’objectif de cette étude est d’explorer comment l’appartenance chez les enfants est façonnée dans les intersections entre les niveaux macro, méso et micro de l’éducation des jeunes enfants en Finlande. Les données sont composées de documents de politique éducative et de matériel ethnographique générés dans des programmes éducatifs pour des enfants de la naissance à l’âge de 8 ans. Un cadre de cartographie situationnelle sert à analyser et interpréter les données à travers et à l’intérieur des niveaux des systèmes (niveau macro, niveau méso et niveau micro). Les résultats montrent que le contexte dans lequel l’appartenance des enfants est façonnée ainsi que les intersections à travers et à l’intérieur des niveaux se caractérisent par les tensions entre similitudes et différences, majorité et minorités, continuité et changement, autorité et capacité d’agir. Le langage utilisé, les pratiques mises en œuvre et le pouvoir de position apparaissent comme les (res)sources par lesquelles l’appartenance (ou non) des enfants est activement produite.

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Series: International journal of early childhood
ISSN: 0020-7187
ISSN-E: 1878-4658
ISSN-L: 0020-7187
Volume: 53
Pages: 9 - 29
DOI: 10.1007/s13158-021-00282-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: The article was supported by the research project Politics of belonging: Promoting children’s inclusion in educational settings across borders funded by NordForsk (project number 85644). Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit