Performing the (religious) educator’s vocation. Becoming the ‘good’ early childhood practitioner in Chile

Ximena Poblete Núñez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, I discuss how professional identities in early childhood education in Chile are performatively constituted within the interplay between a religious discourse of vocation and gender. ‘Having the vocation’ has become a regime of truth that regulates and governs educators’ behaviours, motivations and relationships in their workplace. By deconstructing the concept of vocation through a poststructuralist and feminist theory, I show the arising tensions in this discourse, emphasising that it positions female early childhood educators as a subject of both exploitation and admiration. Vocation shapes early years practitioners not only as nurturing and caring, but deeply altruist, devoted and self-sacrificed women seeking (eternal) salvation. Exposing the contradictory nature of this discourse, the article highlights its tensions with the professionalization of the early years workforce. Whilst vocation situates practitioners as good educators and morally good women, it allows for workforce exploitation, trapping them in hazardous working conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1072-1089
Number of pages18
JournalGender and Education
Issue number8
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018


  • early childhood education
  • gender
  • performativity
  • professional identity
  • Vocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Education


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