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Reimagining joy as a performative force in early childhood education

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Nordström, A.
Publication Date: 
23 Mar 2022


In this conceptual paper, the affective intensity of joy is approached as becoming. Following a relational ontology, joy is attended to both as performed in relation to others (human and more-than-human) and as a performative agent. This paper is based on an empirical exploration of the remarkableness of young children’s everyday lives in a Finnish early childhood education context. This study contributes to the emerging field of affective and embodied research practices in early childhood education by disrupting and reimagining the way in which joy is thought about and researched. Exploring joy from a post-qualitative methodological approach and drawing on a relational ontology will afford novel research insights and new knowledge about joy as a phenomenon beyond the individual human. By reading diffractively and drawing on a ‘practical provocation’, the author aims to increase understanding of joy as a performative force, which is important for early years practitioners and researchers. Acknowledging the relational and performative aspects of young children’s joy within intra-action reveals the remarkable and transformative possibilities in seemingly unremarkable and mundane events.