Relational Transitions: The Evolution of Personal Relationships

Relational Transitions: The Evolution of Personal Relationships

Relational Transitions: The Evolution of Personal Relationships

Relational Transitions: The Evolution of Personal Relationships

Synopsis

Conville solves the problem of how to think about the process of communication in personal relationships by moving beyond stage models of relational development and proposing a new model that depicts a four-phase structure of transition between relational stages. The Relational Transitions perspective offers both a conceptual and a methodological alternative to current work in relationship development. Though its focus is only a part of the human communication field, its principles can be applied to other communication contexts successfully.

Excerpt

The theme of "Process" is an enduring one in communication studies. Nearly 20 years ago Smith (1972) reminded us that a process view is necessary for an adequate understanding of the world in general (Whitehead, 1929) and of human communication in particular (Berlo, 1960). Change, however, comes slowly, and Duck and Perlman recently found themselves making the same recommendation (embedded in a prediction) for the study of personal relationships: "we believe strongly that future work will progress towards the view that relationships are processes." The particular process they selected as most important was "the cognitive transformations and representations through which partners come to perceive themselves as having a relationship" (1985, p. 13).

But "process" is a stubborn concept to implement, especially as "cognitive transformations and representations." Five years later personal relationship scholars were reminded, "relationships are unfinished business conducted through resolution of and dialog about personal, dyadic or relational dilemmas, through talk" (Duck, 1990, p. 9). Moreover, relationship researchers' conscientious efforts to engage in process thinking are plagued by a "human tendency" to conceive it "in terms of stages or easily characterized end-points of processes rather than the processes themselves" (1990, p. 19).

This book proposes answers to these questions: "How shall we conceive of relationships as processes?" "What shall count as data when we examine those processes?" and "How shall those data be interpreted?" Thus the book represents a move away from relational stage models, so . . .

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