Dialogue observed in dialogue: entering a ‘Dialogical Approach to Observation’ in early childhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Downloads (Pure)


A ‘Dialogical Approach to Observation’ proposes refreshed and enhanced interpretation of dialogue. It attends to potential dialogical relation depending on how the protagonists regard others. Rather than assuming any exchange whatsoever is dialogue, the nature of the observed interaction indicates it is dialogical. Buber’s I-You ontology and Merleau-Ponty’s ‘gearing into’ underpin the theoretical perspective and the approach is compatible with more-than-human ontologies. Drawing on evidence from three case studies this proposal reconsiders what dialogue means and how to strengthen the practical relational processes of knowing dialogue in early childhood. Dialogical processes are found also between participants during the shared cycles of visual multi-modal analysis, so dialogue may be observed in dialogue. Perceptions of dialogue are refined in a less definite in-between space during discussion. Recommendations are made for future small-scale applications of the Dialogical Approach to Observation in participatory research, and for interpretation of young children’s experiences in dialogical pedagogy. © 2019, Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The attached document (embargoed until 20/11/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in EARLY CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND CARE uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2019


  • dialogical
  • observation
  • relational knowing
  • more-than-human
  • refined perception
  • Buber
  • participatory

Cite this