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Theories of Communication in Ongoing Relationships.

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Presentation on theme: "Theories of Communication in Ongoing Relationships."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theories of Communication in Ongoing Relationships

2  Bateson and his colleagues (WBJ)  The Palo Alto group was concerned with understanding the general nature of communication  Particular concern was given to the role of communication in psychiatric pathologies

3  Prevailing view was that mental illness was a disease of the individual, treated through individual-level treatment  Palo Alto group moved to an emphasis on the system in which the individual was embedded  Particular attention paid to relational communication in the family system

4  Family systems are interdependent ◦ behavior of individuals depends on each other  They develop and change through ◦ positive feedback (change in stability) & ◦ negative feedback (preserves status quo of system)  They are characterized by equifinality – ◦ same final state can be achieved through multiple paths

5  Input/throughput/output  Environment  Goal  Equifinality/Equipotentiality  Homeostasis/dynamic equilibrium  Rules: how things work—not how supposed to work  Feedback ◦ Positive: Change the system: Deviation amplifying ◦ Negative: Inhibit change: Deviation inhibiting  Schismogenesis (positive/negative)

6  Theory of logical types--systems are organized at various levels of abstraction (take out garbage: behavior or relational meaning)  Rules orientation—highlights role of relational agreements that prescribe certain behavior ◦ Constitutive or regulative ◦ Implicit or explicit ◦ Shifts influence from individual to system

7  Axiom One: One Cannot not Communicate.  Axiom Two: Communication has both relational and content functions in interaction  Axiom Four: Humans communicate through both digital and analogic code systems

8  Axiom Three: In relational systems, we often punctuate interaction in different ways, leading to different meaning  Axiom Five: Communication interactions can be either symmetrical (based on equality and mirroring) or complementary (based on differences—assertive & passive )

9  As a result of these complexities, relational communication can become dysfunctional (paradoxes and double binds)  Relational system change must often be second-order change, often accomplished through reframing from outside of the system ◦ first-order change within system may not work

10 Important contribution to understanding power and control in relational communication. Coding of complementary and symmetrical interaction (Edna Rogers) Interact: Two-turn sequence reveals power/control through one-up and one- down patterns though may be topic specific

11  Interact example: Who’s in charge? One up One down  Relational Dialectics: Philosophical Roots--Nothing on this (pp )

12  A dialectic approach to relationships proposes that relationships are comprised of inherent contradictions  A dialectic is not a “dualism” in which one aspect of a contradiction can or should be chosen  In a dialectic approach, both poles of the contradiction can and do exist together

13  Contradiction: The coexistence and conflict of interpenetrated opposites  Totality: Contradictions in a relationship are part of a unified whole and cannot be understood in isolation  Process: Movement, activity, and change are fundamental properties of social life  Praxis: The choices social actors make in the midst of dialectical tensions

14 Romantic Relationships  Connection-Autonomy  Certainty-Uncertainty (predictability— novelty)  Openness-Closedness  Dialectics can be internal to relationship or external (relationship and network)

15 Integration- Stability- Expression- Separation Change Privacy Internal External Connection- Autonomy Predictability -Novelty Openness- Closedness Inclusion- Seclusion Conventionality - Uniqueness Revelation- Concealment

16 In addition to Baxter’s dialectics, Rawlins adds:  Affection-Instrumentality  Judgment-Acceptance  Ideal –Real (Miller forgot this one)

17  Denial  Disorientation  Spiraling Inversion  Segmentation  Balance  Integration  Recalibration  Reaffirmation

18  Dialectics in friendships: This work (e.g., Rawlins) has looked especially at adolescent friendship  Dialectics in romantic relationships: This work has considered various stages of romantic relationships  Family dialectics: This research has considered praxis patterns in families, especially blended families


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