Relationships and Communication: A Social Communication and Strongly Consequential View
Stuart J. Sigman
This chapter draws on "social communication theory" (Sigman, 1987; see also Birdwhistell, 1970; Leeds-Hurwitz, 1989; Fogle, 1992; Winkin, 1981) as the conceptual basis for the study of interpersonal relationships. Social communication theory represents an informed alternative to psychological theorizing about communication processes -- informed in the sense that it is acknowledged to be deliberate and an alternative in the sense that it is "incommensurable" (cf. Garfinkel & Wieder, 1992; Pearce, 1989) with more traditional communication theories that emphasize the cognitive and affective characteristics of individuals as these impact on or are impacted by communicative behavior. Social communication theory focuses on both the social-cultural communities that form the bases of behavior (cf. Hymes, 1974) and the multiparticipant, interactive character of communication ( Sigman, 1995a, b). Its basic unit of analysis is not "senders" and "receivers" who communicate about internal states, out of which relationships develop, but the social collectivity and, so, views interpersonal relationships as social and cultural episodes that "draw in" community members for their performance and instantiation.
Three understandings about relationships are offered in this chapter. The first and the third concepts derive from social communication theory as articulated in S. J. Sigman ( 1987, 1991; also see Kendon & Sigman, 1996). The second represents a complement to social communication