Dialectical Approaches to Studying Personal Relationships

Dialectical Approaches to Studying Personal Relationships

Dialectical Approaches to Studying Personal Relationships

Dialectical Approaches to Studying Personal Relationships

Synopsis

This book describes many different and useful ways of understanding personal relationships from a dialectical perspective. It is written for scholars in higher education, both faculty and students, across many fields within the social sciences and the humanities who seek answers to questions about how people relate to one another. The book is valuable for all scholars who pursue new ideas because it models a form of scholarly communication in which:

• multiple voices can be acknowledged as valid;

• the worth of one perspective is not measured by the denigration of another; and

• difference is celebrated as conducive to learning rather than threatening to it.

The contributors emphasize the characteristics of their dialectical view that set them apart from other dialectical authors and describe their methods of studying relationships from a dialectical perspective. Following the Bakhtinian perspective, they honor the values of dialogism by respecting different and sometimes contradictory views, assuming that these views can be valid, and joining in a discussion with the editors and other contributors about their emerging work. They also acknowledge that the chapters in this text are part of an ongoing process to frame and reframe emerging ideas, and allow the dialogue that occurs within this frame the freedom to express creative, unique ideas.

Excerpt

Over many years, we have been exploring ideas about relational dialectics in conference papers, journal articles, book chapters, and a book. We have not been alone. We have had the good fortune to share these scholarly adventures with a number of others charting their own courses in dialectical thinking. We summarized the perspectives of many of these fellow adventurers in our book, Relating: Dialogues and Dialectics (1996). We realized, as we summarized their work, the irony of our action. At the same time that we were embracing Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of multivocality, we were speaking for our dialectical colleagues, using our authorial voice to represent their ideas. In that moment of irony, the idea for this edited volume was born. We decided that it would be more consistent with our Bakhtinian perspective if these other dialectical theorists spoke for themselves. Many of the authors we spoke for are authors of chapters in this edited text. We invited them to join us in this project because each has something unique to say about social dialectics and because what they have to say is intriguing to us.

We also invited them to author chapters because they were willing to construct their works within the guiding framework we set for the project. We asked authors to emphasize the characteristics of their dialectical view that set them apart from other dialectical scholars and to describe their methods of studying relationships from a dialectical perspective. We also asked authors to honor the values of dialogism, which we learned from Bakhtin's writings. Essentially, these included showing respect for different and sometimes contradictory views, assuming that different and even contradictory views can be valid, joining in a dialogue with us and the other contributors about their emerging ideas, and allowing the dialogue that occurs within this frame the freedom to express creative, unique ideas.

The authors represented here struggled successfully, we believe, to be true to these commitments. From our first group dinner conversation about the book project (involving 10 of us) to the final exchange of editors' observations and authors' reactions, the flow of ideas was exquisitely informed, passionately engaged, creatively complicated, and respectfully articulated. In these chapters, readers will see the authors' convictions of the worth of their own . . .

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