Maintaining Relationships through Communication: Relational, Contextual, and Cultural Variations

Maintaining Relationships through Communication: Relational, Contextual, and Cultural Variations

Maintaining Relationships through Communication: Relational, Contextual, and Cultural Variations

Maintaining Relationships through Communication: Relational, Contextual, and Cultural Variations

Synopsis

Relational maintenance provides a rallying point for those seeking to discover the behaviors that individuals utilize to sustain their personal relationships. Theoretical models, research programs, and specific studies have examined how people in a variety of close relationships choose to define and maintain those relationships. In addition, relational maintenance turns our attention to communicative processes that help people sustain their close relationships. In this collection, editors Daniel J. Canary and Marianne Dainton focus on the communicative processes critical to the maintenance and enhancement of personal relationships. The volume considers variations in maintaining different types of personal relationships; structural constraints on relationship maintenance; and cultural variations in relational maintenance. Contributions to the volume cover a broad range of relational types, including romantic relationships, family relationships, long-distance relationships, workplace relationships, and Gay and Lesbian relationships, among others. Maintaining Relationships Through Communication: Relational, Contextual, and Cultural Variations synthesizes current research in relationship maintenance, emphasizes the ways that behaviors vary in their maintenance functions across relational contexts, discusses alternative explanations for maintaining relationships, and presents avenues for future research. As such, it is intended for students and scholars studying interpersonal communication and personal relationships.

Excerpt

Most sane people know that relationships require work. That is, partners need to spend time and effort to maintain functional, satisfying relationships. Without such efforts, relationships tend to deteriorate. Of course, one might rely on external inducements to keep a relationship intact (Attridge, 1994). For example, one might use structural dependencies, including irretrievable investments, to keep a partner locked within the confines of a personal involvement (Johnson, 1999). However, this book is not about using existing structures to maintain a personal relationship. Instead, this book focuses on the communicative processes that people engage in to keep their relationships stable and satisfactory. As Perlman (2001) observed, our primary assumption is that “maintenance is what we do. In other words, it is a process rather than, as some suggested, as state” (p. 360).

In our view, the examination of relational maintenance offers a rallying point for people interested in discovering the behaviors that people utilize to sustain various relationships. Theoretical models, research programs, and individual studies have examined how people in a variety of relationships keep those relationships defined in ways that they want them defined. More precisely, students in communication, social psychology, family studies, sociology, and related fields now possess a variety of articles and chapters to read on this topic.

This anthology constitutes the third book that specifically focuses on the topic of relational maintenance. The first, by Canary and Stafford (1994) framed the area of study as one that emphasizes communication, social psychology, and dialectics. It summarized the burgeoning research to that time, hoping to provide traction for the construct. (About the same time [19931, a . . .

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