This issue of the European Journal of Education addresses current European\ud trends and developments in the field of early childhood education and care from\ud three interconnected perspectives: it provides a platform for exploring policies,\ud practices and theoretical underpinnings relating to the institutions set up to support\ud young children and their families in Europe.There is no ‘safe ground’ on which to\ud construct our research and that has consequences for design, process and\ud outcome: it confronts researchers with the necessity to situate and position themselves\ud in relation to the contested meanings. In designing and conducting research\ud into the complexity of European early childhood education and care systems, we\ud are asked not to take sides, but to take a stand. The individual contributions\ud approach their specific topics within a shared framework that acknowledges that\ud education is inevitably political and value based — which creates the need for\ud constant democratic dialogue. The choice of contributions to this issue does not\ud attempt to offer definite answers, let alone ‘solutions’ to the ‘problem’ of early\ud childhood care and education in Europe. It insists that all suggestions can only be\ud preliminary and are subject to constant democratic renegotiation. Rather than\ud promoting one ‘right’ answer, the perspectives offered in the shared framework of\ud the issue aim at exploring the critical questions we suggest we need to ask in\ud research, policy and practice
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