Relational Dialectics

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Chapter 11

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Relational Dialectics

  1. 1. RELATIONAL DIALECTICS Of Baxter and Montgomery
  2. 2. Basic Approach <ul><li>Intimate relationships organized around the dynamic interplay of opposing tendencies </li></ul><ul><li>Interpersonal relationships are indeterminate processes of ongoing flux </li></ul><ul><li>Relational dialectics highlights the tensions in close personal ties </li></ul>
  3. 3. Contradictions <ul><li>Contradiction is the dynamic interplay between unified oppositions </li></ul><ul><li>Tensions between intimacy and independence </li></ul><ul><li>Bonding occurs through interdependence and dependence, yet people need personal space </li></ul><ul><li>There is no ultimate resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Dialectical tension provides opportunity for dialogue </li></ul>
  4. 4. Dialectic internal to the relationship <ul><li>Closeness , certainty , openness need to be balanced against autonomy , novelty , privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Tension between connectedness (closeness) and separateness (autonomy) is common to all relationships; if one axis wins, the relationship loses </li></ul>
  5. 5. Dialectic between couple and community <ul><li>Powerful dialectics include </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inclusion and Seclusion (social stimulation and support vs. privacy) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventionality and Uniqueness (reproduction of relational patterns vs. needs of intimacy) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revelation and Concealment </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Dealing with Contradictions (1-4) <ul><li>Denial (responding to one pole of dialectic) - not satisfying </li></ul><ul><li>Disorientation (helplessness) – dysfunctional </li></ul><ul><li>Spiraling alteration between two poles </li></ul><ul><li>most common response </li></ul><ul><li>Segmentation (compartmentalization) of activities between poles </li></ul>
  7. 7. Dealing with Contradictions (5-8) <ul><li>Balance (compromise strategy, but mutes the full force of the two poles); assumes that when one party wins, the other loses </li></ul><ul><li>Integration (partners respond simultaneously to opposing forces without dilution or delusion) </li></ul><ul><li>Recalibration (temporarily reframing so that tugs and pulls no longer seem oppositional) </li></ul><ul><li>Reaffirmation (acknowledgment that dialectical tensions are ongoing) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Critique <ul><li>Not a theory but a meta-theoretical perspective: is this a falsifiable theory? </li></ul><ul><li>Potentially contradicts other theories which stress such notions as shared meaning, warm communication, increasing certainty </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships perceived as very messy: each relational force is in opposition to every other pole: separateness is in opposition to connectedness, openness, certainty </li></ul><ul><li>Too heavy on anecdotal support </li></ul><ul><li>Requires that we listen to many voices </li></ul><ul><li>Needs to deal with gender issues and expectations about gender behavior </li></ul>
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