Weaving the Social Fabric of Dialogic Relations: An Investigation and Exploration into the Interactional Accomplishment of "Being With"
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Santa Barbara

Weaving the Social Fabric of Dialogic Relations: An Investigation and Exploration into the Interactional Accomplishment of "Being With"



Weaving the Social Fabric of Dialogic Relations:An Investigation and Exploration of the Interactional Accomplishment of “Being With” by Kimberly A. Rudder-Breed

Opportunities to participate in dialogic practices are essential to the co-construction of meaning. Such opportunities not only afford deeper learning for the individual, they open up different kinds of possibilities for the community as a whole. Participating in dialogic practices enables intersubjective understanding across differences of experiences and ideas. While many schooling practices organize students into social relations of a corrosive nature, participating in dialogic practices opens up possibilities for more generative social relations between students – ways of regarding and being with others that generate richer future pathways of social and civic involvement with others. Yet, these opportunities are often rare to nonexistent in many classrooms. The exigencies of the classroom, including many external forces, create barriers to teachers who would otherwise pursue this as an educational aim. When dialogue is conceived as merely technique or method, the investment of time into this approach may feel untenable. But to conceive of dialogue this way is to diminish its full potential. This study conceptualizes dialogue as both encounter and relation, and explores the ingenuity of young children as they navigate high-stakes disputes – in the absence of adult intervention.This study begins with a search for the emergence of “dialogic moments” (Cissna & Anderson, 1998) in one kindergarten classroom. The questions orienting my observations and analysis were: What does a dialogic encounter look like in a kindergarten classroom? Where and under what conditions does it emerge? And what are the barriers? Acting as a participant-observer (Spradley, 1980) in the classroom, I collected approximately 50 hours of video over four months. Using a “natural history” approach (McDermott & Raley, 2011), I conducted slow, fine-grained analysis of video recordings of naturally occurring interaction. In my search for dialogic moments, I discovered a student-generated interactional phenomenon, which I have named “commoning,” to describe the ways that students collectively opened up a shared space to inhabit together. To establish the phenomenon, I drew on a collection of four cases of commoning to identify and describe its constellation of defining features. I then analyzed two episodes in more depth to better contextualize how these features function and interact within the unfolding interaction. Driven by a need to better understand what was happening between students in these commoning encounters, I returned to the literature for new theoretical tools. I drew on work in the fields of Sociology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, and Phenomenology to develop a novel conceptual framework for understanding the social relational processes emergent in the interaction. Returning to one particularly delightful episode, I applied this conceptual framework to the analysis of the micromoments of embodied interaction. I examined the relational messages emerging between participants as they moved into embodied involvement and enacted a fullness of mutually co-present participation in the encounter. Through fleeting micromoments of mutual gaze, students confirmed one another. These moments were infused with vitality and collective effervescence, including moments of shared delight and shared rhythm of movement. Together, students were weaving a shared social tapestry that opened the possibility for the kind of risk-taking and vulnerability that was required to navigate emergent dialogic tensions. Applying the same conceptual framework to the analysis of micromoments in the dialogic encounter, I compare and contrast these two very distinct yet similar interactional modes of “being with” others – both enacted without guidance or intervention from adults. In the final discussion, I further refine my conceptual model in an attempt to develop a vocabulary to describe the interlocking components of embodied mutual involvement in the interactional accomplishment of “being with.”

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View