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Chapter Eleven - My Illinois State

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Chapter Eleven
Theories of Communication in Ongoing Relationships
Bateson and his colleagues (WBJ)The Palo Alto group was concerned with understanding the general nature of communicationParticular concern was given to the role of communication in psychiatric pathologies
Relational Systems Theory:The Palo Alto Group
Prevailing view was that mental illness was a disease of theindividual,treated through individual-level treatmentPalo Alto group moved to an emphasis on thesystemin which the individual was embeddedParticular attention paid to relational communication in the family system
Systems Theory: Shift in Focus
Family systems areinterdependentbehavior ofindividuals depends on each otherThey develop and changethroughpositivefeedback(change in stability)&negativefeedback(preserves status quo of system)They are characterized byequifinality–samefinal state can be achieved through multiple paths
Systems Concepts
Input/throughput/outputEnvironmentGoalEquifinality/EquipotentialityHomeostasis/dynamic equilibriumRules: how things work—not howsupposed toworkFeedbackPositive: Change the system: Deviation amplifyingNegative: Inhibit change: Deviation inhibitingSchismogenesis(positive/negative)
Some Systems Terms
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 behaviorConstitutive or regulativeImplicit or explicitShifts influence from individual to system
TheoreticalInfluences onRelational Systems Theory
Axiom One: One Cannot not Communicate.Axiom Two: Communication has bothrelationalandcontentfunctions in interactionAxiom Four: Humans communicate through bothdigitalandanalogiccode systems
Pragmatics of HumanCommunication(1967)
Axiom Three: In relational systems, we oftenpunctuateinteraction in different ways, leading to different meaningAxiom Five: Communication interactions can be eithersymmetrical(based on equality and mirroring) orcomplementary(based on differences—assertive & passive)
As a result of these complexities, relational communication can becomedysfunctional(paradoxes and double binds)Relational system change must often besecond-orderchange, often accomplished through reframing from outside of the systemfirst-orderchange within system may not work
Important contribution to understanding power and control in relational communication.Coding of complementary and symmetrical interaction (Edna Rogers)Interact: Two-turnsequence revealspower/control through one-up and one-down patternsthoughmay be topic specific
Relational Systems Theory:Developments
Interact example: Who’s in charge?One upOne upOne downRelational Dialectics: Philosophical Roots--Nothing on this (pp. 196-197)
3 turns = 2 interacts
A dialectic approach to relationships proposes that relationships are comprised of inherent contradictionsA dialectic is not a “dualism” in which one aspect of a contradiction can or should be chosenIn a dialectic approach, both poles of the contradiction can and do exist together
Relational Dialectics
Contradiction: The coexistence and conflict of interpenetrated oppositesTotality: Contradictions in a relationship are part of a unified whole and cannot be understood in isolationProcess: Movement, activity, and change are fundamental properties of social lifePraxis: The choices social actors make in the midst of dialectical tensions
Dialectics: CentralConcepts
Romantic RelationshipsConnection-AutonomyCertainty-Uncertainty (predictability—novelty)Openness-ClosednessDialectics can beinternalto relationship orexternal(relationship and network)
Relational Dialectics: Types
Baxter’s Typology of Dialectical Tensions
Integration- Stability- Expression-Separation Change Privacy

Connection- Autonomy
Openness- Closedness
Inclusion- Seclusion
Conventionality- Uniqueness
Revelation- Concealment
In addition to Baxter’s dialectics, Rawlins adds:Affection-InstrumentalityJudgment-AcceptanceIdeal –Real (Miller forgot this one)
Rawlins: Friendship Dialectics
DenialDisorientationSpiraling InversionSegmentation
Relational Dialectics:Praxispatterns(Table 11.1, p. 201)
Dialectics in friendships: This work (e.g., Rawlins) has looked especially at adolescent friendshipDialectics in romantic relationships: This work has considered various stages of romantic relationshipsFamily dialectics: This research has considered praxis patterns in families, especially blended families
Relational Dialectics:Areas of continuing research





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Chapter Eleven - My Illinois State