Informal childcare and childcare choice in Wales

Dallimore, David (2016) Informal childcare and childcare choice in Wales. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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The importance of childcare as a field of study and for public policy has grown in recent times in response to an increase in women in the labour force and increasing evidence of the developmental importance of the early years. Following devolution in the UK childcare is now the responsibility of the devolved Governments. In Wales, some distinctive early childhood policies have been developed, but it is unclear whether or not there is a coherent approach which incorporates childcare. Anecdotally, one of the distinctive features of childcare often highlighted in Wales, is the importance of informal care, yet despite a body of UK research examining informal childcare from a number of perspectives, little is known about the practice in Wales. Whether the use of informal childcare in Wales is distinctive and, if so, why is it important, are key questions that are unanswered. The aim of this research has been to examine the field of childcare in Wales and, within it, the choices that families make between formal and informal care. It utilises the theories of Pierre Bourdieu in the study of childcare as a social practice, using his key ‘thinking tools’ of habitus, capitals and field. The study also follows his methodological approach to researching the topic. Three inter-related strands of research activity are presented in this thesis using mixed methods. First, is a structured analysis of policy and related texts. Secondly, data from the 2015 National Survey for Wales is subjected to quantitative examination to present a picture of informal childcare use in Wales, and thirdly, interviews with 45 parents from three areas of Wales are interpreted using thematic analysis. The research finds that there are indeed distinctive aspects of childcare in Wales, including greater use of informal care and less use of formal childcare than in England. Informal childcare use is found to be less associated with economic capital than accumulations of cultural and social capital. Building on Bourdieu’s theories, it finds that alongside unequal possession of capital, parental habitus including work and care dispositions are important in understanding the decisions that parents make about childcare. Also found are differences in the choices that parents make, and are able to make, according to where they live - as well as some distinctive practices related to Welsh language. In conclusion, this research finds that the distinctiveness of the childcare field in Wales and the policy context are inter-related. The political and ideological framing of childcare in Wales along with the delivery model of formal childcare are found to be incoherent. This can be observed to result in many parents relying on informal childcare to accommodate work and caring responsibilities and preferences. Those parents without access to informal care are therefore considerably disadvantaged

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Business, Law, Education and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2017 11:22
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2017 11:30
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/10257
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