This article problematises the construction of regulation as an effective manager of risks to children in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. Adopting a Foucaldian, governmentalist approach to regulation and risk, the authors suggest that governments in Australia have ‘risk colonised’ regulation to meet their own interests rather than make effective use of regulation as a mechanism for quality assurance. They propose that the risk colonising of regulation has not effectively addressed societal risks to children in ECEC services, and has generated its own risks to quality standards through a preoccupation with institutional risk. In these ways, ‘the laugh of Foucault’ resounds in the regulation of ECEC services.
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