Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Family studies

Publication Details

20th EECERA Conference, Knowledge and voice in early childhood. 6th-8th September. Birmingham, UK.


This paper explores the construction of knowledge about ‗children‘, ‗rights‘ and ‗ECEC‘ in Irish early childhood policy discourses. This research forms part of a wider thematic research project exploring Irish early childhood policy design from a number of angles; this strand of the research is concerned with ―revealing meaning‖ from Irish ECEC policy texts through a critical discourse analysis study. The theoretical goal of a critical discourse analysis study aims to understand how specific realities have come into being in the policy area; how they are reproduced through policy literature, how language use is an integral facet of social processes, and how this shapes meaning about ECEC in wider society. The methodology used in this study follows the general rules proposed in the CDA framework devised by Chouliaraki and Fairclough (1999); alongside Foucault‘s notion that language, power and knowledge are fundamentally interconnected at the level of discourses (1977). The CDA framework was applied to policy texts using a thorough linguistic textual analysis, while also considering the wider dominant political and social context at the time of publication and dissemination. Discourses of knowledge about Irish ECEC policy have been constructed twofold; as policy responding to a ‗childcare crisis‘, and, as policy targeting educational disadvantage; both of which fall short of conceptualising services and supports as rights-based. This paper aims to show how knowledge about each concept is constructed and represented through the language used in the policy document and explore the significance of these constructs for future policy.


Irish Reserch Council for Humanites and Social Sciences