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Home arrow Geography arrow Global Perspectives on Human Capital in Early Childhood Education: Reconceptualizing Theory, Policy, and Practice


Populations Production and Participation

The current debate about the future value of human-capital heightens the stakes for the claiming and use of multidimensional theoretical strata grounding social design experiments and inquiry (Piketty & Goldhammer, 2014). Public good will result in choices between the development of human-capital based on community self-determination and participation or through a deflection of resources to aggrandize a nascent super managerial class (Green & Ives, 2009; Zanoni, 2013a). Public health and education are vital to define the arguments for this case. Redlener (in Kristof, 2014, p. SR 11) states that there are eight barriers to learning for young children: “Vision problems, hearing deficits, undertreated asthma, anemia, dental pain, hunger, lead exposure and behavior problems,” which could be assessed through primary care providers and addressed through public health and education programs. How these conditions come about, how they are allowed to happen, who is responsible, and how families and children move forward are all positioned through the theoretical lenses we use to see social conditions and potential solutions (Weyenberg, 2006.)

We think of curriculum as something that is used in schools. However, public health and education both impose a structure for what families are expected to do to insure that young people grow up to be productive students and future workers, and standards or benchmarks to judge whether children are receiving the proper care and training and getting the proper benefit from it. The social condition of early childhood is dependent upon this construction of family. The shift in the role of the family allows us to view the production of population to explain how social participation and power work. Machiavelli enabled us to see that the art of governing was understanding the definition and undulation of groups within society or populations (1513/1992). There became a growing awareness for the modern prince to see that power did not flow solely from nobility or wealth as such but from adjustment and alignment of social forces having action, movement, and footprints. Populations were born, grew, lived, and died voting with their hearts, minds, and feet.

The role of the family changed dramatically; instead of being the model and aspirational ideal, the family system became the means for regulating and influencing actions resulting in state governance through self-surveillance and management (Foucault, 1991, p. 100). The husbandry of the monarch was now reflected in the discourses and practices of families to utilize them as instruments directing and reflecting social power. The development of statistics and equivalences guided the rulers in describing and understanding populations and the consequences of political practices (Curtis, 2002). Let us consider how early childhood is being used as one tool to define a critical moment in the lives of populations and to see how equivalences are formed and what outcome is desired and rewarded given a specific role the family should take at this time (Weyenberg, 2006).

A dialogue between Gramsci and Foucault enables us to see the action and impact of Machiavelli’s emergent construct of population (Machiavelli, 1513/1992). Gramsci sees hope in describing the cultural and educational processes that give rise to agency and praxis through worker organic intellectuals and worker movements that take economic leadership and power through worker populations (Fontana, 1993; Gramsci, 1996, Fourth Notebook §49, p. 199; Smith, 2010). Yet, Foucault proposes governmentality as discourse that supports individual self-regulation based on self-interest resulting in hesitance with a priori social alliance and ambiguity of determined social action (Foucault, 1991). For Gramsci the workings of hegemony to gain the peoples’ consent with accepted common sense frameworks that defined agency was a breakthrough in Machiavelli’s thought (Gramsci, 1996, Fifth Notebook §127, p. 377). Gramsci asserted that critique of the capitalist order would emerge through humanist action in confronting hegemony; political power could then flow to working classes based on their reflections and challenges to their material positions. Fontana emphasizes a quote from Machiavelli related to force and consent: “Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people” (1993, p. 137). In a sense this love is an inner accord with the values for peoples’ lives that the prince embodied and protected.

Power dynamics of government, particularly from the view of monarchy, are founded on cultural domination through the force of colonialism. Fanon, Said (1986), and many others present the internal struggle of recognizing and extracting the colonial voices forming and constraining identity and subjectivities. In considering dialogue, Bakhtin offers insight into perceiving and sourcing voice to understand multidimensional meaning veiled and suspended between multiple language vectors, a state he described as heteroglossia (1981). Contingency and deconstruction processes enacted in the sourcing and evaluation of voice are essential tools to disrupt structures of domination formed through hegemony or governmentality. There is always a tension because most authors and actors want to be secure in the grounding of their assumptions and not have to look back over their shoulders or back at the face of colonial modernism (Andreotti [de Oliveira], 2011; Coloma, 2011; Hickling-Hudson, 2011; Murillo, 2004; Rizvi, Lingard, & Lavia, 2006; Tuhiwai Smith, 1999).

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