||With the overall aim of "analysing and comparing the language that was used during the period 1945-1998 in pre-school goal documents with regard to the duty of promoting the development of childdren into responsible persons and citizens", the thesis studies seven authoritative government texts for pre-schools. The goal documents form an intertextual chain whose first link was published under the auspices of the National Swedish Board of Health andd Welfare, when the number of institutions for the care and education of the youngest children was still very limited. The goal document which makes up the latest link in the chain serves as an indication of the altered status of pre-schools caused by their becoming a part of the educational system.
Starting out from curriculum theory the thesis makes a text analysis where the methodology has been inspired by Quentin Skinner´s historical-pragmatic and intertextual approach and by John Austin´s speech act theory. The source texts are contextualised by means of parlimentary reports, government bills, and other contemporary texts.
Since ´ansvar´ (´responsibility`) is a contingent concept, the context has a dicisive importance for the meaning. The analyses of the pre-school goal documents reveal certain differences from the usual lexical definitions of ansvar (´resposibility`), which are ´punishment`, ´answer` and ´duty`, and which are used in law, mooral philosophy and political science. The authority and adulthood implied by the standard mening, and the weight, seriousness and negative axiological sense associated with these, are changed when in a "new" context, the pre-school context, the issue is children´s development of responsibility.
When the goal documents refer to the youngest members of society as having the ability to take and show responsibility, this indicates not only that the sense, reference and speech act potential of the word have changed, but also that the underlying perception of children has changed.
"New", positively axiological senses of ansvar (´responsibility´) appering in several of the pre-school goal documents are that the children are expected to "respond to" other people and "show consideration" and a "democratic responsibility" - an interpretation which has been caused by the advocacy that children should participate and share the responsibility and also have a real influence on the everyday life of pre-schools.