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Emotional security and daycare for babies and toddlers in social-political contexts: Reflections of early years pioneers since the 1970s

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We discuss oral history interviews with academics who laid the foundation of research and pedagogies in daycare for under three-year-olds in Europe and North and South America since the 1970s. Their work is clearly embedded in the social-political context of their country: the left-wing programmes for disadvantaged families in the U.S.A.; neoliberal policy and daycare because of employment of mothers in the U.S.A.; social-democratic policy and family support in Sweden; and state-controlled institutions for education in socialist-communist East Germany. The interviewees acknowledge the risk of infant daycare for emotional security. Related to values and social context in their country, the interviewees contributed to different interpretations of attachment theory, attachment policies and innovative insights such as multiple attachments, friendship between one-year-olds, group sensitivity, professional love and home-to-centre and vice versa transitions. All are convinced that today we have the knowledge to offer high-quality daycare, but that infant daycare can be a risk when economic demands are too dominant. (author abstract)
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