Theoretical Frameworks for Personal Relationships

Theoretical Frameworks for Personal Relationships

Theoretical Frameworks for Personal Relationships

Theoretical Frameworks for Personal Relationships

Synopsis

The past two decades have seen a tremendous increase in research and scholarship devoted to personal relationships. From rather scattered beginnings a recognizable and recognized field has emerged, whose strength and health is reflected in a wide array of indicators. The editors contend that while the vigor of the field is often shown in the diversity and innovation of its research, it is in the theoretical domain that they find evidence of a real coming of age.

This volume provides grounds for arguing that the diversity of theorizing is particularly healthy at this point. The reader will notice that there is some diversity in terms of how much theory and research is contained in each chapter -- some are purely theoretical; others are complemented by original pieces of empirical research. The editors and contributors are from different countries -- another way in which the diversity of this book manifests itself. The variety of the frameworks presented are seen as a strength, as building on established strengths elsewhere to feed into relationship research and enhance its vitality. Each chapter makes its own contribution to thinking and research about personal relationships. As a group they add to an exciting collection that not only reflects a richness of conceptual backing, but also a wide range of usable theoretical structures.

Excerpt

The past two decades have seen a tremendous increase in research and scholarship devoted to personal relationships. From rather scattered beginnings, a recognizable and recognized field has emerged, whose strength and health is reflected in a wide variety of indicators. At ground level, there is the sheer volume of published journal articles and books. At a second and more organizational level, there is the emergence of two major journals devoted to the field, the International Journal of Personal Relationships and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, along with the now firmly established International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships and the long-running series of International Conferences on Personal Relationships. Beyond all this solid evidence there is an interesting form of additional validation in the way many writers, commentators, and editors point out almost as a matter of course how satisfactorily the young field has grown. Indeed, perhaps the most telling sign of all is the fact that dwelling on such an observation is now regarded as hackneyed and trite.

So to use a developmental metaphor, the infant has grown up, the young adult has emerged and is clearly thriving. It is not our intention to go over old ground here. Instead, we wish to pursue the argument a step further by proposing that relationship research has reached a certain stage of maturity that is reflected in the title of this volume. Our contention is that, although the vigor of a field is often shown in the diversity and innovation of its research, it is in the theoretical domain that we find evidence of a real coming of age. The early years of any new scientific endeavor generally require careful empirical work to map out the terrain and its boundaries. Maturity, on the other hand, is . . .

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