Table of Contents
Last updated February 14, 2001
SPRING 2001 THEORY WORKBOOK
Explanation of Theory:
Communication parties experience internal, conflicting pulls causing relationships to be in a constant state of flux, known as dialectical tension. The pressures of these tensions occur in a wavelike or cyclical fashion over time. Relational Dialectics introduces the concept that the closer individuals become to one another, the more conflict will arise to pull them apart.
Theorist: Baxter and Montgomery
Baxter, L.A. (1988). A dialectical perspective on communication strategies in relationship development. In S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships, 257-273.
There are three primary relational dialectics:
Relational Dialectics if a humanistic theory based on the idea that people are responding to the pulls and tugs that surround them in a relationship. It presents a practical hypothesis, but because it is unique to the situation, it becomes difficult to make generalizations. However, it does do an excellent job of explaning specific instances.
Ideas and Implications:
Dialectics is useful to apply in situations when trying to explain dramatic
or sudden changes in human communication behavior. The pressures
each pole (or dialectic) exerts is comparable to the waxing and waning
periods of the moon.
An applicable example to help illustrate Relational Dialectics involves two college students in a romantic relationship, Jill and Josh.
Openness and Closedness
Montgomery, B.M. & Baxter, L.A. (1998). Dialectical Approaches to Studying Personal Relationships.
Baxter, L.A.& Montgomery, B.M. (1996). Relating: Dialogues and Dialects.
Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:
Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. N/A
Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. 215-218.
Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. 163-174.
Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 179-191.
Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. N/A
Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A
West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. 164-177.
Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 206-212.