Human Relationships

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Steve Duck

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    Preface

    In the 20 years since Human Relationships was first published, there has indeed been the huge increase in the number of courses on relationships in such disciplines as communication studies, family studies, sociology, and personality and developmental psychology that I had hoped for. A consequence is that there have been not only substantial advances in theory, scope and methods, but also diversity in the ways in which the subject matter is taught. All of these make the original 1986 version of this book gratifyingly dated and also impel revision of the Third Edition that was published in 1998. For example, there has been substantial attention to attachment theory, sociobiology, evolutionary theory, and culture but there is also corresponding attention to the practical and qualitative effects of conduct of everyday life in the routine behaviours of relationships — how people carry them out. The blending of these elements, characterized by the connection of predisposing qualities to the actual performances of daily life, is one of the main changes that characterize this Fourth Edition.

    The attention to relationship performance gives the book a broad appeal to those disciplines concerned with interactions, while the inclusion of evolutionary and attachment perspectives will attract readers whose main interest is in factors that predetermine certain behaviours (such as biological predispositions, acquired personality proclivities, styles of interaction acquired in early experience and more distant influences such as cultural norms). Of course all of these things have importance in the study of relationships, and this book will not be imperialist in claiming that there is only one interesting way to look at relationships. It does, however, argue against those who say that there is only one such way. This edition thus blends the established UK emphasis on discourse with the more traditional US focus on experimental perspectives, stressing the ways in which the predisposing aspects of psychology, such as personality, evolutionary and sociobiological components of psychological dispositions are given their real and enacted form in the interactions of everyday life among networks of real people.

    Another necessary increase in attention is given both to the dark side of relationships — the things that are clearly bad about relationships such as jealousy and stalking — and to the smaller everyday management of difficulties in relating, the perpetually recurrent crises in all relating that require us to balance rewards and the inevitable costs that stem from the essentially dualist and dialogical nature of relationships in practical life. This type of management is an inescapable challenge of relationship conduct since they are always changing and so we must constantly adjust as part of the natural process of the maintenance and evolution of relationships (and, indeed, of our own changing life circumstances, as we progress through the life cycle). The routine management of the difficulties of relationships now takes up an entirely new chapter in this edition (Chapter 7 ‘The Management of Relationship Difficulty’).

    All relationships are networked experiences and in everyday life that makes them difficult as well as beneficial. Particularly the sociologists have demonstrated how naïve it is to see relationships as occurring only as emotional events between two partners on their own. For one thing most partners get introduced by mutual friends — which brings networks right into the very beginning of relationships — but the advice and critique of outsiders is also perpetually available whenever two or three are gathered together. The modern cult of celebrity brings the relationships of film and pop stars and politicians into public scrutiny and even ordinary folk are criticized for their relational behaviour by others on TV and in the newspapers. Bosses and co-workers freely comment on romances at the office, and friends, parents and other relatives are even asked their opinions about the suitability of partners and to make assessments of the behaviour that occurs in relationships. When Hillary Clinton forgave Bill for his affair with Monica, most people didn't say ‘Okay, that's their private business’, they had TV phone-ins devoted to comments from people who didn't actually know any of the participants involved nor any of the details of their behavior or relationship circumstances. Yet nobody said that the callers were in any way wrong to voice their opinions on the matter. In addition to the growth in theory and research, this recognition of a shift in balance from the dyadic to the culturally contextual is taken into account in this Fourth Edition.

    Furthermore, there has been a significant growth in relational technology: cell phones, the Internet, IM, texting, facebook/myspace, online dating. The fact that relationships and roles bleed across boundaries between previously segmented parts of life is now a major feature of living and one cannot ignore the fact that such boundary crossing is important, not only to student readers, but also in the greater world. The new Chapter 6 (‘Technology and the Boundaries of Relationships: It's all Geek to me’) now covers these developments, arguing that technological change is in fact a relational change because electronic technology is essentially used as relational technology and that relational space is now effectively ubiquitous.

    Also, the Fourth Edition highlights the places where applications and practical implications of relationship research can be found. Increased recognition of the role of relationships is now standard in health sciences (relationships as sources of health and of additional anxiety and discomfort for the chronically sick), legal disciplines, where relationships in jury decision-making, law enforcement and criminality are recognized, and in business, where management and marketing both now attend to relationships. Beyond these cases however, the Fourth Edition offers an emphasis on the broader application of research. Each chapter now contains examples and exercises where the principles discussed in the chapter can be applied in the real world that students know and live in. The field has now reached the state of maturity where its practical usefulness can also be demonstrated in a world dominated by a corporate mentality, which requires answers about the practical value of the academy. Thus, the students who read this book not only will learn about relationships, but will begin to think about them in a way which can be applied broadly, once they leave college — but they are encouraged to understand and illuminate their own lives even before that.

    To this end the Fourth Edition contains a number of new pedagogical devices to aid student learning and reflection about their experiences, while also assisting the instructor in using the material to best effect and making dry theory come alive. Each chapter contains a set of boxes, sometimes more than one of each. One of these is a ‘Try this out’ box that indicates ways in which the students can employ the concepts used in the chapter to inform and understand their own life as it happens to them (i.e. not just a vague expectation that’ … this is how social psychology explains your life at the theoretical level’ but actual cases drawn from their own experience to use in understanding concepts explored in detail in the chapter). Students will be encouraged and directed to refer to the usual dry theoretical concepts discussed in each chapter by directly applying them to their own daily experience and will be directed to consider how and why their experiences differ from those of their classmates. This in itself will make class activity more rewarding for the instructor as well as for the students themselves since a variety of perspectives will predictably emerge and provide fodder for contemplation (those elusive times that instructors know, and desperately seek, as ‘teachable moments’).

    Frequent ‘Look out for this in the media’ boxes provide the students with culturally critical guidance on TV or film examples illustrating the specific concepts developed in the chapter. Students will be steered to discover examples of a concept as presented by TV and other media. In many cases recent films are suggested as illustrators of examples of concepts in the chapter and in some cases specific scenes are identified either for student or instructor viewing or use in class.

    Each chapter has one or more ‘Listen in on your own life’ boxes to encourage and attune students to attend carefully to their own conversations directly and astutely, so gleaning evidence to illustrate items discussed in each chapter, often with specific suggestions about what to listen out for in ways they will not have imagined using before. Similar but more demanding ‘Keep a journal’ boxes focus the students on issues for class discussion and they are guided to record and report on their observations about experiences in their daily life that would help to illustrate the chapter concepts and which otherwise they might not learn to notice. At the end of each chapter, ‘Self questions’ present the students with a number of questions that invite them to reflect on their own performance of relationships. Questions are of the form ‘Am I doing … ?’, ‘How do I … ?’, ‘What do I see my friends and others doing … ?’ and are directed in each case to demonstrate the topic of the chapter. In at least one case the questions are intended to make the students reflect very carefully on much broader but taken-for-granted social/cultural issues such as the nature of childhood, relating difficulty, and the spilling over from one role or relational performance boundary to another when they use their mobile phones or send a text message.

    At the end of each chapter ‘Practical matters’ boxes direct readers to some much wider issues. These are chosen to have practical application in the broader social/cultural world beyond the academic or personal experiences and may guide students in career or family choices later in their life outside of their course requirements while nevertheless offering ideas that could be useful for longer study as final projects or undergraduate degree dissertations.

    Chapter summaries are provided in fuller detail in this edition. These, already present in the Third Edition, are expanded in the Fourth Edition to offer improved guides for study and revision, while new Focus points at the start of each chapter steer the students to the main concepts that will be reviewed in the chapter and so help to point them in the right direction when taking notes as they read the chapters in the first place.

    Acknowledgements

    In addition to all those people whom I acknowledged in the previous editions, for this Fourth Edition I am particularly grateful to Dan Kirkpatrick for careful reading and commentary on specific material. Several of my recent students discussed topics in this book and gave me good ideas, among them Walter Carl, Yanrong Chang, Dani Chornet, Robin Crumm, Megan Foley, Maria Garcia-Pastor, Masahiro Masuda, David McMahan, Stephanie Rollie, Erin Sahlstein, Mike Searcy, Jill Tyler, Lise VanderVoort-Valentine, Alaina Winters, and Brendan Young. My deep thanks and appreciation once again go to Joanna, Ben, and Gabriel for their tolerance of my abstraction and focus on the book when they had other things on their minds, and also to Julia T. Wood for her constant encourage-ment, good advice and email enlightenment.

    Thank you all.

    Steve Duck, Iowa City

    Publisher's Acknowledgements

    The author and publisher would like to thank the following for permission to use copyrighted material:

    Chapter 2

    Figure 2.1 simplified diagram from page 163 of

    Bartholomew, K. (1990). Avoidance of Intimacy: An attachment perspective. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 147–178. London: SAGE.

    Chapter 3

    Figure 3.1 modified from page 119 of

    Duck, S.W. (1994). Meaningful relationships: Talking, sense and relating. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Table 3.1 reproduced from pages 7–8 of

    Douglas, W. (1987). Affinity testing in initial interaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 3–16. London: SAGE.

    Figure 3.2 modified from Duck (1982: 16) ‘A topography of relationship disengagement and dissolution’, in S. W. Duck (Ed.), Personal Relationships 4: Dissolving Personal Relationships. London: Academic Press. Reprinted with permission from Elsevier.

    Figure 3.3 modified from Duck (1984: 169) ‘A perspective on the repair of relationships: repair of what when?’ in Duck, S. W. (ed.), Personal Relationships 5: Repairing Personal Relationships. London: Academic Press. Reprinted with permission from Elsevier.

    Chapter 7

    Diagram from page 226 of Duck, S. W., Foley, M. K., & Kirkpatrick, C. D. (2006) Relating difficulty in a triangular world. In C. D. Kirkpatrick, S. W. Duck & M. K. Foley (Eds.), Relating difficulty: Processes of constructing and managing difficult interaction. (pp. 225–232). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates. Reprinted with permission from Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.

    Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders but if any have been inadvertently overlooked the publisher will be pleased to make the necessary arrangement at the first opportunity.

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    Author Index


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