Cry, baby, cry: A dialogic response to emotion

This article challenges traditional approaches to emotion as a discreet biological or dialectic process in the early years. In doing so the proposition is made that emotion is an answerable social act of meaning-making and self-hood. Inspired by Bakhtinian philosophy, which resists separating emotion from cognition or the individual from their social milieu, the dialogic interplay that takes place between an 18-month-old infant, adults, and peers in a New Zealand Education and Care setting is explored from an emotional volitional standpoint. Drawing on eleven hours of polyphonic split-screen video footage taken from the visual perspective of the infant and those around her, language acts and their interpretive aftermath are presented as intersubjective and alteric (i.e., altering) communicative acts. Taken together they recaste infant emotionality as a highly strategic socially oriented process of embodied performance through selective employment of genres that "speak" to the adult. The article argues that such a renewed appreciation of infant emotion has potential for understanding very young children as strategically acting upon as well as responding to the environment that surrounds them. As such there is potential to view emotional acts as answerable performance, with revealing implications for those who share in infant experience.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
White, E. J. (2013). Cry, Baby, Cry: A Dialogic Response to Emotion. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 20(1), 62-78.
Taylor and Francis