chapter  1
14 Pages

The Organization of Action and the Nature of Adult-Infant Transaction

WithJ. S. Bruner

I wish to begin by baldly stating a presupposition about the organization of action, one I shall take for granted; I then present evidence from the study of mother-infant interaction that would have forced me to come to a conclusion about the nature of human action very like that I began with as taken for granted. I promise to perform this feat without mirrors. My argument will be simply: How could parent-infant interaction in the human species (and in some higher apes) be as it is unless the nature of human action is as I suppose it to be? This is not such an audacious enterprise as it may seem. It is what we researchers do all the time, though we suppress our presuppositions in communicating our findings and then feign surprise when we state our final conclusions. The evidence I use is material from studies in both the acquisition of language and the assisted acquisition of action routines by infants.