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This study focuses on the debate surrounding global policies and practices related to the sector of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), utilizing the Greek policy context as an example. Drawing on the critical education policy studies literature, this paper interrogates the complex concepts of quality and autonomy, which are core in the global agenda. We do this by exploring how the international and national austerity measures, imposed in many countries – and especially in Greece, marked by a devastating economic crisis in the last decade – have affected their re-interpretation and translation. Our empirical data suggest that municipal ECEC directors, interviewed in the context of our research, hold diverse views on quality, raising issues of inequality, limited participation and low attainment. The study generates reflections, suggesting that the idea of autonomy has been systematically associated with Greece’s economic struggles and therefore understood and re-interpreted by the participants in a constrained way that limits their action. The way these notions are re-contextualized at the municipal level, and the consequences for ECEC provision, pose as key issues of this research.
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