Attitudes to Child-rearing and Young Children in Kent (England) and Murcia (Spain): A Comparative Multiple-case Study of Pre-compulsory Early Years Settings

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Roehampton University, 2012
The purpose of this thesis was to explore the premise that children may be more accepted in social situations in Spain than in England. This was framed within a review of international reports and mass media sources that indicated children in England may be viewed less positively than in Spain. The central question asked if there were differences in attitudes to child-rearing and young children in Kent (England) and Murcia (Spain). To address this, a comparative multiple-case study of pre-compulsory early years settings was employed. Social settings in the wider environments were also investigated. A qualitative, interpretive approach to the research generated data through interviews and observations in these locations. The first part of the fieldwork involved visiting six early settings where 48 practitioners in three coastal, town/city and out-of-town settings in both Murcia and Kent were interviewed. This entailed observing practitioners' interactions with children and their daily practices. The second part involved spending time in intergenerational spaces within the two wider societies; hotels, restaurants and shopping centres. In these, 18 interviews were conducted and adult-child interactions were observed. Before adopting more conventional methods for coding categories and identifying emerging themes, NVIVO, a qualitative data classifying program, was used to sort and categorise these data. In conclusion, the main differences identified in the settings were practitioners' attitudes to affective behaviours, emphases on safety factors and valued social behaviours. Regarding attitudes to children in the wider societies, children appeared less likely to be excluded from shared public spaces or viewed as nuisances in Spain. In contrast, although Kent provided more child-focused ii facilities than its counterpart, this sometimes resulted in children being segregated from adults. This thesis potentially contributes to the field of early childhood studies by highlighting how the interplay of cultural differences and adults' attitudes impact on young children's lives.

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