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Welfare and Self Care

Institutionalized Visions for a Good Life in Danish Day-care Centres

Eva Gulløv

Using the case of early childcare institutions in contemporary Denmark, the aim of the article is to show that welfare entails visions of living that are made manifest through the requirements of everyday institutional practices. The main argument is that welfare institutions are designed not only to take care of people's basic needs but also to enable them to fare well in accordance with the dominant norms of society. This is particularly evident in the case of children. Children are objects of intense normative attention and are invested in as no other social group in order to ensure their enculturation. Therefore, studying the collective investments in children, for example by paying attention to the institutional arrangements set up for them, offers insight into dominant cultural priorities and hoped-for outcomes.