Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Relating: Dialogue & Dialectics

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Relating: Dialogue & Dialectics

Article excerpt

Relating: Dialogue & Dialectics. Leslie A. Baxter & Barbara M. Montgomery. New York: Guilford Press. 1996. 285 pp. Paper ISBN 157230-101-5, $18.95.

Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery meet and surpass their goal to begin a discussion of relational dialectics perspective in Relating: Dialogues & Dialectics. This book draws together recent work in the field of close relationships and poses interesting questions for future research.

The authors begin by outlining key assumptions and concepts of a dialogic approach to relationships. The comparison and contrast of their perspective with theorists as diverse as Lao-tse and Hegel provides a rationale for their heavy reliance on Bahktin. This first part of the book provides a clear explanation for those unfamiliar with the approach and a much needed synthesis for those who have been working in a dialogic perspective already.

The second part of the book reviews major areas of study in the field of close relationships (relationship development, closeness, certainty and openness) from a dialectical perspective. Prior theories are reviewed; empirical research supportive of a dialectic approach and examples of research invoking the perspective are provided (when available). Although some of the critique of past theory seems unnecessary, this discussion furthers the solid theoretical base built in the first part of the book. Additionally, this aspect makes the book ideal for a graduate course in personal relationships. The examples of empirical research are interesting and provide thought-provoking ideas for future research. For instance, micromomentary investigations of family interactions are used to show how differentiation is as important as closeness. …

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