The Power Struggle at the Occidental Child Development

Powerful Essays
The Power Struggle at the Occidental Child Development

I have conducted ethnographic research at the Occidental Child Development Center where I have spent many hours participating and observing with the children of the center. I am not an outsider to this center, because I have been working with this particular bunch of children for a year, so I am well accepted when I asked to join in the games with the children. The center has a total 45 preschool students aging from 2-5 years old and seven staff members and five student workers. Throughout my research the director, teachers, and my fellow student workers accompanied me at all times, however I have not included all 45 children and all eight staff members. I have narrowed my research and included observations where children practice more power over other children, an example of personal agency, and an example of the family oriented atmosphere.

To protect the anonymity of the children I have observed I have labeled the children according to their classroom and sex. In the following ethnography I refer to the Hungry Caterpillars, the Busy Bees, and the Terrific Tigers. The school is broken down into three classrooms according to the child’s age and skills. The two year-olds are the Hungry Caterpillars (HC), the three year-olds are the Busy Bees (BB), and the four year-olds are the Terrific Tigers (TT). The children are aware of their classroom names and often refer to them when addressing others or themselves. I must make a note that some of the children are held back because they lack certain skills they need before they can move onto the next classroom so I have also included the age of the children to clarify for

the reader. One might think that this affe...

... middle of paper ... to the Western notion that marks children as incompetent adults. I believe it would be valuable for ethnographers to use feminist methodologies to help redefine this Western notion of childhood, and give the children a chance to speak for themselves.


Chin, Elizabeth. Feminist Theory and the Ethnography of Children’s Worlds: Barbie in New Haven, Connecticut.

Gailey, Christine Ward. “Feminist Methods” Ch. 6 in Bernard, H. Russell Ed. Handbook of Methods In Cultural Anthropology. London: A Division of Sage Pub, Inc.

Leavitt, Robin. Power and Emotion in Toddler-Infant Day Care. Albany: State University of New York Press. 1994.

Rosaldo, Michelle Zimbalist, “Woman, Culture, and Society: A Theoretical Overview”, in Lamphere, Louise & Rosaldo, Michelle Zimbalist, Ed. Woman, Culture, and Society. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press. 1974.
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