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Preschool girls as rule breakers: Negotiating moral orders of justice and fairness

Journal article
Authors Magnus Karlsson
Eva Hjörne
Ann-Carita Evaldsson
Published in Childhood
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 396-415
ISSN 0907-5682
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Pages 396-415
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1177/0907568216678292
Keywords Board games, children’s peer relations, ethnomethodology, moral orders, moral work-ininteraction, preschool girls, rule violations
Subject categories Pedagogical Work


This study examines how preschool girls organize situated board games. Examining video data using an ethnomethodological approach, we focus on moral work-in-interaction in instances where the girls negotiate rule violations. It was found that the girls oriented to diverse forms of moral orders, shifting between a competitive/justice-based order and a socio-moral order of reciprocal relations. Argumentative moves of cheating were used as communicative resources both to control moral transgressions and to gain personal advantages. Overall, the analysis shows that preschool girls are active moral agents in the making and breaking of rules and in the negotiation of complex moral orders.

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