Positioning Children Citizens: Exploring Discourses in Early Childhood Curricula in China and Aotearoa New Zealand





young children, citizenship, discourses, governmentality, neoliberalism


 Positioning young children as citizens, now rather than as citizens in waiting, is an emerging discourse in early childhood education internationally. Differing discourses related to young children and early childhood reveal various ideas of children as citizens, and what their citizenship status, practice and education can be. This paper analyses the national early childhood education (ECE) curricula of China and Aotearoa New Zealand for the purpose of understanding how children are constructed as citizens within such policy discourses. Discourse analysis is employed in this study as a methodological approach for understanding the subjectivities of young children and exploring the meanings of young children’s citizenship in both countries. Based on Foucault’s theory of governmentality, this paper ultimately argues that young children’s citizenship in contemporary ECE curricula in China and New Zealand is a largely neoliberal construction. However, emerging positionings shape differing possibilities for citizenship education for young children in each of these countries.


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Author Biography

Peng Xu, Victoria University of Wellington

Peng Xu, is a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington. He obtained his Master’s degrees at Beijing Normal University and The University of Edinburgh separately. His research interests center on young children’s rights and citizenship, early childhood curriculum, and comparative education.