Close Relationships: A Sourcebook

Article excerpt

Hendrick, C., & Hendrick, S.S., Eds. (2001). Close Relationships: A Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 476 pp. ISBN: 0-7619-1605-9. Price $97.95 (hardcover).

It has been 20 years since 109 researchers from different disciplines met at the first International Conference on Personal Relationships in Madison, WI. Since then, there has been extraordinary growth in theory and research on relationships, whether dubbed "personal relationships" or "close relationships." Anyone who attempts to put together a sourcebook on relationships faces an impossible, but essential, task. It is important to assess this volume in terms of the immensity of the task and the level at which it succeeds in acting as a useful sourcebook for researchers and graduate students.

Courses on relationships are now offered in family studies as well as social psychology, communication studies, sociology, social relations, and child development, among other disciplines. Appropriately, all of these disciplines are represented in the author list of this book, and it covers the gamut of different types of relationships from childhood to old age.

Berscheid provides a characteristically elegant foreword on the science of relationships, and this is followed by the four sections: methods, relationship forms, relationship processes, and relational threats. The book is unusual in giving equal and fair treatment to both quantitative and qualitative methods and these two chapters (by Kashy & Levesque and by Allen & Walker, respectively) are concise, authoritative, and informative. Together, the two chapters make good course reading for graduate students.

The "relationship forms" section begins with a chapter by Milardo and Helms-Erickson discussing the importance of thirdparty influences on dyadic relationships. The tendency to treat dyadic relationships as merely emotional manifestations or states between two people has been one of the field's weaknesses, and the editors show shrewd judgment in placing this chapter at the start of the volume. Chapters on children's friendships (especially in relation to rejection, unpopularity, and the need for social skills), adolescent relationships (especially the difficulties of interweaving family and peer networks), the life cycle of friendships, and close relationships in old age (especially their role in aiding the transition from vigorous health to graceful aging) are given thorough and (in a good sense) opinionated treatment. The chapters address multiracial and multicultural relationships; the close relationships of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals; modern-day inequalities in marriage; divorce and single parenting; and remarried families. …