ABSTRACT

The article summarizes research on professional action and practice in early childhood education and care (ECEC) from the perspectives of structural theory, interaction theory, and performance theory. These theoretical approaches of professional action presented in this article aim to describe the structures of uncertainty and the paradoxes, which characterize professional action and enable the internal logic of that practice to be empirically reconstructed by examining everyday situations in early childhood education. Subsequently, we introduce current empirical research strands on (professionally) coping with uncertainty in action situations within German ECEC from a comparative perspective. The goal is to provide an overview of current empirical approaches to professional action in ECEC in the German-language context, illustrate their points of connection to the theory of professions tradition within education science, and develop links to other theoretical strands and methodological perspectives. We end the article by discussing the potential and limitations of these approaches as well as their points of connection to international debates.