The Decommodification of Early Childhood Education and Care : Resisting Neoliberalism book cover
1st Edition

The Decommodification of Early Childhood Education and Care
Resisting Neoliberalism

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 30, 2022
ISBN 9781032110301
December 30, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

The Decommodification of Early Childhood Education and Care: Resisting Neoliberalism explores how processes of marketisation and privatisation of ECEC have impacted understandings of children, childcare, parents, and the workforce, providing concrete examples of resistance to commodification from diverse contexts.

Through processes of marketisation and privatisation, neoliberal discourses have turned ECEC into a commodity whereby economic principles of competition and choice have replaced the purpose of education. The Decommodification of Early Childhood Education and Care: Resisting Neoliberalism offers new and alternative understandings of policy and practice. Written with co-authors from diverse countries, case studies vividly portray resistance to children as human capital, to the ‘consumentality’ of parents, and to the alienation of the early childhood workforce. Ending with messages of hope, the authors discuss the demise of neoliberalism and offer new ways forward.

As an international book with global messages contributing to theory, policy, and practice regarding alternatives to a neoliberal and commodified vision of ECEC, this book offers inspiration for policy makers and practitioners to develop local resistance solutions. It will also be of interest to post-graduate students, researchers, educators, and pre-service educators with an interest in critical pedagogy, ECEC policy, and ECEC practice.

Table of Contents


Introduction: From the politically impossible to the politically inevitable

Chapter 1. On Commodification and Decommodification

Chapter 2. Resisting children as human capital

Chapter 3. Resisting the Consumentality of Parents

Chapter 4. Resisting the alienation of the workforce

Chapter 5. Conclusions


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Michel Vandenbroeck is associate professor in Family Pedagogy at Ghent University, Belgium.

Joanne Lehrer is Associate Professor in the Department of Education at the Université du Quebec en Outaouais, Canada.

Linda Mitchell is Professor in the Division of Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.


This book’s vignettes of grassroots initiatives embodying potentially sustainable and scalable alternatives to the commodification, privatisation and marketisation of early childhood education and care will inspire early childhood education activists and observers alike. Set within a thoughtful counter-hegemonic narrative, these examples from across several continents should energize those seeking to effect system change.

Eva Lloyd, Director The International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare and visiting Professor at the University College London


This book deftly reveals and challenges the encroachment of neoliberalism upon early childhood education. For several decades, in many parts of the world, neoliberalism has infused early childhood education policy. And policy in turn, has (attempted to) permeate how we construct ourselves as educators, academics and researchers, how we position children and families, and the aspirations we seek from early childhood education itself. Nevertheless, this is an optimistic book, reminding us that neoliberalism is not, nor ever has been, an inevitable political condition. There are many points of resistance. Throughout the world, early childhood educators, researchers and providers envisage their work differently, countering the narrative that positions early childhood education as a commodity, parents as consumers, and children as human capital. This book shares vignettes of these acts of resistance, reminding us of our own agency, our capacities to be catalysts for change. Our resistances operate on many levels and are apparent in many different ways: in our conversations, the values we reinforce or question, our interactions and intentions, the way we research. Ultimately, as this book asserts, we must advocate for the right of all children to an early childhood education that recognises them as citizens in the here and now.

Frances Press, Professor of Early Childhood and Education Policy, Manchester Metropolitan University