Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch | Go to book overview
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8
Power in Friendship and
Use of Influence Strategies

James F. Roiger1 University of Arizona

Emerson ( 1962) proposed that power is a potential that exists as a result of the interdependence of the individuals in a reciprocal relationship. This power can be manifested in a reciprocal relationship through such things as the ability to make decisions in the relationship, and the control of resources in a relationship. In fact, Blau ( 1964) contended that the potential for power exists as a result of an asymmetry of resources between the interactants. This resource differential could be evident in several ways such as when one relational partner has more discretionary income than another, or when one person is more socially or professionally desirable than another, or perhaps when one person simply has more knowledge and expertise than the other. Obviously these resources and others could exist in varying degrees and in innumerable combinations in these relationships.

Friendship is a reciprocal relationship in which the effect of power can be fruitfully studied. These relationships, which are voluntary in nature, are often based on social equality and private negotiation ( Bell, 1981). Although individuals can "pick their friends," the opportunity to choose may be very restricted in other reciprocal relationships, such as work and family relationships. Duck ( 1983) proposed that friendships meet important psychological and physiological needs. Individuals who enjoy a network of good friends have fewer medical problems, rely on friends for practical advice when other relationships are in trouble, and experience less loneliness and frustration. Accord

____________________
1
The author wishes to thank Michael Burgoon, Deborah Newton, Paul Mongeau, and Pamela Kalbfleisch for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.

-133-

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