The Family Communication Sourcebook


Edited by: Lynn H. Turner & Richard West

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Defining and Interpreting the Family

    Part II: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations

    Part III: Internal Family Dynamics

    Part IV: External Structural Frameworks

  • Dedication

    We would like to dedicate this book to our students and teachers of family communication (many of whom are represented in this collection).

    Lynn dedicates this book to her husband, Ted, who continues to explore lessons of family communication with her.

    Rich dedicates this book to his mother, Beverly, who has been a constant source of support for him.


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    Lynn H.TurnerMarquette University
    RichardWestUniversity of Southern Maine

    As we write this, issues from the public sphere (e.g., the war in Iraq and related protests at Camp Casey, echoes of September 11, 2001, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the global fight against crippling diseases such as AIDS and malaria) resonate deeply and remind us of the importance of examining the influences of the private sphere called “family” (however it is defined). These events and ongoing challenges—despite their time in history—remain etched in our hearts and minds forever. The family, we contend, is inherently and explicitly situated in these public proceedings. For instance, we cannot think about war without simultaneously considering the toll it exacts on loved ones and family members. The tragedies on September 11, 2001, cannot be framed without reflecting on the grief experienced by the families of the victims. Hurricane Katrina devastated more than buildings and levees; family units were permanently altered. Disease knows no boundaries, and families frequently experience disruption because of the effects and availability of diagnosis and treatment.

    The pervasiveness of family, however, is unquestionable, whether events are tragic, joyful, or mundane. For instance, the family is situated clearly in wedding announcements, anniversary celebrations, and the birth of a child. Happy moments such as winning a lottery, buying a home, surviving cancer, and going on vacation also require us to consider the role of family. Groundbreaking legal decisions on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and successful same-sex adoptions across the country prompt us to further commit ourselves to discussions about the family. The topic of family is inescapable as we read our daily newspaper, surf Web sites, chat with work colleagues, and live our lives, thereby illustrating how deeply intertwined the public and private spheres are (Coontz, 2000).

    We cannot think of any relationships more fundamental to people's lives, their communication patterns, and overall psychological, emotional, and physiological development than those found in family. Family relationships school us in how to communicate, how to relate to others, and whether and how to commit ourselves to significant others. As we learn these lifelong lessons, we construct family in a recursive cycle of communication. Thus, communication reflects and creates family experience, and family experience is grounded in communication (Turner & West, 2006a).

    Yet, these fundamental relationships are complex and various. They are incapable of formulaic description, and the diversity of family life must be acknowledged by students and scholars of family communication. We have written elsewhere (Turner & West, 2003) that forming an expansive ideology of family is both necessary and important to scholarship in family communication. First, U.S. census figures suggest that family households are now more diverse than ever. Second, given that “the family has been forced to renegotiate not only the structure of family life but the familiar roles within that structure” (Dickson, 2006, p. 135), the intersection between diversity and communication in the family cannot be ignored or devalued.

    We write at a time when the area known as family communication is clearly burgeoning in scholarly and practical ways. The Family Communication Commission of the National Communication Association (NCA) was founded in 1989. At the time, a core group of family communication scholars was trying to assemble enough interest to achieve “divisional status” in the association. Today, the Family Communication Division is one of the largest units in the NCA. A journal dedicated to the topic (Journal of Family Communication) has been publishing quality scholarship for several years, and family communication courses proliferate in schools across the country.

    Communication researchers, over the past 30 years, have described how families are created, shaped, and sustained through social interaction (e.g., Callan & Noller, 1986; Fitzpatrick, 1988; Jorgenson, 1989; Noller & Fitzpatrick, 1993). Furthermore, as Kathleen Galvin (2001) notes, family communication is now a familiar and important part of the communication research landscape, although 30 years ago, it only had meaning for a small number of professionals whose interest in interpersonal communication focused on long-term committed relationships. Furthermore, today, this landscape of family communication scholarship must necessarily include a number of gatekeepers, including journal editors, publishers, and granting agencies (Turner & West, 2006b).

    Thus, we believe the time is auspicious for presenting this book: The Family Communication Sourcebook. The book offers a collection of both fundamental and cutting-edge research on the family, grounded in communication theory. We had two basic goals in compiling this book: First, we wished to present a communication perspective on the family, and second, we wanted to show how family is more than simply another context for communication. Our concern to explicate family as a multidimensional concept unites these two goals.

    Underlying Themes of the Collection: Our Organizational Pattern

    We envisioned the book divided into four sections, mirroring our thematic approach to the topic. First, we founded the book on definitional issues. Part I: Defining and Interpreting the Family consists of two chapters approaching the definition of family in two different ways. Kathleen M. Galvin's chapter (Chapter 1) argues that “as families become increasingly diverse, their definitional processes expand exponentially, rendering their identity highly discourse dependent. Family identity depends, in part, on members' communication with outsiders, as well as with each other regarding their familial connections” (p. 3). Galvin's approach is consistent with a great deal of research in the family communication field, contending that the definition of family is dependent on the communication that the members engage in both inside and outside of family boundaries.

    Chapter 2 by Kory Floyd, Alan C. Mikkelson, and Jeff Judd reviews what they call three lenses for the purpose of defining family: “We distinguish among defining familial relationships based on their emotional attachment and patterns of interaction (role lens), their legally sanctioned status (sociolegal lens), and their shared genes and/or reproductive potential (biogenetic lens)” (p. 26). They explain the strengths and weaknesses of each lens, concluding that it is important to distinguish clearly between relationships that are familial and those that are not. Taken together, these two chapters present a comprehensive and provocative introduction to the problem of mapping the conceptual terrain of family.

    Part II consists of theoretical and methodological reviews, providing foundational information for any student of family communication. Teresa C. Sabourin (Chapter 3) overviews an extensive repertoire of theories that have been frequently used to frame studies of family communication. In Chapter 4, Deborah S. Ballard-Reisch and Daniel J. Weigel distinguish between theories and models and review important models of family functioning. They include a model they have created, focusing specifically on family communication. Finally, Sandra Metts and Emily Lamb organize the myriad methods researchers employ in examining family communication. In total, this part of the book presents a coherent guide to a variety of approaches to thinking theoretically and conducting research in family communication.

    The third section of the book, Internal Family Dynamics, examines communication practices that are integral to families, making families unique among settings for interpersonal communication and more than simple contexts for interpersonal communication. These communication practices include storytelling (Chapters 6 and 7), conflict (Chapters 8 and 9), intimacy (Chapters 10 and 11), discipline (Chapters 12 and 13), and rituals (Chapters 14 and 15). Each topic is addressed in two chapters; the first chapter provides a conceptual framing and literature review of the topic, and the second chapter presents a data-based study of the topic (or a specific aspect of the topic). In the area of storytelling, Kristin M. Langellier and Eric E. Peterson (Chapter 6) illustrate how storytelling is communication practice for families. In Chapter 7, Theresa L. Hest, Judy C. Pearson, and Jeffrey T. Child present a study based on a specific type of story, cover stories, that they collected from married couples.

    Michael E. Roloff and Courtney Waite Miller (Chapter 8) review the literature on family and marital conflict, providing a rich overview of the critical concepts in this area. In Chapter 9, Patricia Noller, Sharon Atkin, Judith A. Feeney, and Candida Peterson illustrate the topic with two studies about conflict between adolescents and their parents. In these studies, their aim was to shed light on what adolescents and parents perceive as typical in conflict as well as to examine the effects of different conflict styles.

    The intimacy section begins with a chapter (Chapter 10) by Megan K. Foley and Steve Duck that clarifies the term family intimacy, which they note is a slippery term in need of definition. Chapter 11, by Sandra Petronio and Susanne M. Jones, reports on a specific aspect of this term in their study of unwanted advice given to pregnant couples. Chapter 12 by Thomas J. Socha offers a look at how discipline has been treated in the family literature and then argues for enlarging our thinking about discipline by adopting “orchestration” as a new frame. Steven R. Wilson, Xiaowei Shi, Lisa Tirmenstein, Alda Norris, and Jessica J. Rack (Chapter 13) present a meta-analysis examining parental negative touch, noting that “parents do not strike their children at random but rather at predictable moments that arise out of larger interactions usually involving discipline” (p. 238).

    Leslie A. Baxter and Dawn O. Braithwaite (Chapter 14) overview the area of family ritual by bringing together research and theory from the interdisciplinary fields of ritual studies and family studies, as well as from family communication. They are specifically interested in the following questions: “How can we conceptualize ‘ritual’ in the family context? What theoretical approaches do scholars use to understand rituals? How have researchers studied rituals? How do families ritualize? What are possible directions for future research by family communication scholars who study rituals?” This chapter is followed by Leah E. Bryant's study (Chapter 15) on rituals in the context of stepfamilies. Bryant asks, How do family rituals function after the death of a parent?

    The fourth and final section of the book is called External Structural Frameworks. In this section, chapters address the interface between the family and another important social institution. Again, chapters are paired to provide conceptual overviews and data-based studies at each interface. Chapters 16 and 17 examine the interface of the family and media. J. Alison Bryant and Jennings Bryant (Chapter 16) consider the implications of living in a wired family and suggest new directions for family and media research. In Chapter 17, Alison Alexander, Seok Kang, and Yeora Kim present the results of a study surveying both parents and children about Internet concerns, attitudes, and use. Their discussion of “cyberkids” helps us to understand the new technological world of young people.

    Other interfaces examined include work and family (Chapters 18 and 19), religion and family (Chapters 20 and 21), school and family (Chapters 22 and 23), and health care and family (Chapters 24 and 25). In Chapter 18, Kristen Lucas and Patrice M. Buzzanell present discourses pertaining to the work-family framework and problematicize some antiquated notions pertaining to family. Caryn E. Medved and Elizabeth E. Graham (Chapter 19) examine gendered messages pertaining to work and family. They present research findings that support (and refute) the notion that women and men are socialized differently about work, family, and balance. Religion and religious identity are articulated in Chapter 20; Patrick C. Hughes and Fran C. Dickson explain the nuances associated with interfaith marriages. In Chapter 21, Helen Sterk and Rebecca Kallemeyn present a study examining Southern Baptist women preachers. In Chapter 22, Pamela Cooper presents a theoretical overview of family-school relationships, identifying the importance of looking at the family, arguing that “education is everyone's business” Scott A. Myers, Paul Schrodt, and Christine E. Rittenour help us to better understand whether hurtful messages affect a student's academic progress (Chapter 23). In Chapter 24, Loretta L. Pecchioni, Teresa L. Thompson, and Dustin J. Anderson embrace a life span perspective and examine family talk about health, sexuality, and substance use and abuse, among other topics. In Chapter 25, Donna R. Pawlowski researches the dialectical tensions pertaining to stroke survivors. Pawlowski explores the onset of stroke through the rehabilitation process and establishes that despite medical setbacks associated with a stroke, participants still see their quality of life overall as positive.

    In addition to these four sections, the book is introduced by L. Edna Rogers, who provides a chapter reflecting on the development of family communication as a field of study. Rogers offers a brief history of the field, which sets a context for the rest of the material in the book. Finally, Mary Anne Fitzpatrick concludes the book with an epilogue summarizing the current state of the field.

    Expressing Our Appreciation

    We are grateful for the outstanding scholarship of all the authors in this collection. Each time we read a chapter, we found ourselves learning something new about family communication. We appreciated the authors' willingness to revise and reconsider as we worked toward completion of this volume. Working with this distinguished group of scholars was a great pleasure for us, and we are very happy to have had the opportunity to do so. We also appreciate the historical framing provided by having two founders of the field, L. Edna Rogers and Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, introduce and conclude the book. Lynn extends her thanks to her research assistant, Mei Jia, who has helped her check references and copy edit and is always cheerful and smiling when she comes into the office to work. She also appreciates the support she has received from the College of Communication and Marquette University, enabling her to work on this project. Rich is indebted to the Department of Communication and Media Studies for providing him ongoing support. He also remains grateful to be able to work with such supportive students, colleagues, and administrators. We both extend a sincere thank you to Todd Armstrong, who is the very definition of a perfect editor. His support, friendship, and unwavering good humor make him a joy to work with, and we both value Todd's skills as an editor and his delightful personality as a friend. We also thank Camille Herrera and Deya Saoud and the entire Sage team for all their help in facilitating the publication of our book.

    Callan, V. J., & Noller, P.(1986). Perceptions of communicative relationships in families with adolescents. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 813–820.
    Coontz, S.(2000). Historical perspectives on family diversity. In D. H.Demo, K. R.Allen, & M. A.Fine (Eds.), Handbook of family diversity(pp. 15–31). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Dickson, F. C.(2006). Commentary on Part B. In K.Floyd & M. T.Morman (Eds.), Widening the family circle: New research on family communication(pp. 129–134). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Fitzpatrick, M. A.(1988). Between husbands and wives. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
    Galvin, K. M.(2001). Family communication instruction: A brief history and call. Journal of Family Communication, 1, 15–20.
    Jorgenson, J.(1989). Where is the “family” in family communication? Exploring families' self-definitions. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 17, 27–41.
    Noller, P., & Fitzpatrick, M. A.(1993). Communication and family relationships. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    Turner, L. H., & West, R.(2003). Breaking through silence: Increasing voice for diverse families in communication research. Journal of Family Communication, 3, 181–186.
    Turner, L. H., & West, R.(2006a). Perspectives on family communication
    (3rd ed.)
    . New York: McGraw-Hill.
    Turner, L. H., & West, R.(2006b). Understudied relationships in family communication research: Expanding the social recipe. In K.Floyd & M. T.Morman (Eds.), Widening the family circle: New research on family communication(pp. 93–206). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Introduction: A Reflective View on the Development of Family Communication

    L. EdnaRogersUniversity of Utah

    The family has been a central domain of study in the social sciences from the early institutional view of the family as a primary social unit to the more recent communication view of the family as a dynamic, socially constructed system of relationships. The movement toward the development of family communication had its beginnings in the 1970s as a special area of interest within the broader arena of interpersonal communication. Over the past three decades, we have seen this interest of a small group of scholars unfold, blossom, and take on a life of its own. The present volume speaks “volumes” to the progressive development and value of applying a communication perspective to the study of the family.

    For those of us entering the newly established discipline of communication in the late 1960s, there were, however, few “footholds” within the discipline from which to build a research program focusing on family communication. During these early years, the field was heavily weighted toward mass communication, with an emphasis on the study of message effects, speaker credibility, persuasion, compliance gaining, and related issues using a strategic, actor, or action-oriented approach. In similar fashion, research in interpersonal communication drew largely on psychological models, and thus the majority of the work was primarily focused on the individual, particularly the study of perceptual and cognitive processes. Given this research orientation, few solid guidelines were available for studying relationships, especially those most personal: family relationships.

    As a result, the two most promising research literatures on which to draw were, first and rather obviously, the broad area of family sociology and, second, the general area of system theory and related writings in family therapy. Although the volume of work by family sociologists provided a wealth of information on marriage and the family, the accumulated research clearly indicated an analytical preference for either an individual or larger social unit focus over an interaction focus. Nye and Bernardo's (1966) edited text outlined 11 conceptual frameworks for family analysis, ranging from the structure-functional, psychoanalytic, social-psychological, developmental, to an economic approach. Of the approaches covered, the most relevant for communication scholars was the conceptual framework based on symbolic interaction. Although not included by Nye and Bernardo, system theory as applied to the family provided the other main resource for forming a communication perspective on the family. The theoretical foundations of both symbolic interaction and system theory offered a potentially rich grounding for the development of family communication. Each perspective, albeit in different ways, centered on key communication aspects of human relationships—namely, interaction processes, the interconnection of self and other, socially constructed realities, and mutually created patterns of relationship.

    In thinking back on symbolic interaction and the influence of the Chicago school, a host of prominent writings comes to mind with only a few mentioned here. The work of the school's early founders—Park, Burgess, Thomas, and Mead, among others—fundamentally reshaped how we viewed human behavior and social relationships. This was also the case with the family. Prior conceptions of the family were fully redefined with Burgess's (1926) well-known definition of the family as “a unity of interacting personalities.” This reframing shifted the focus of family study from the more traditional social institution, or structure-functional approach, to a view of the family based on the interaction processes of family members (Burgess & Locke, 1945). Waller (1938), in his early family text, was the first to incorporate Burgess's ideas. In applying this approach, Waller provided fresh insights on the dynamics of the family; for instance, in his discussion of power differentials, he first introduced the “principle of least interest.” This text and a later revision (Waller & Hill, 1951) were instrumental in expanding the social implications of symbolic interaction from the original focus on the self to the study of the family, as well as relationships in general.

    Two writings, founded on the central premise of this perspective, have become classic readings in exemplifying the social construction of meaning. Hess and Handel's (1959) extensive case study of five families is noted for its methodological approach providing an in-depth analysis of how families construct their lives through interaction. In a complementary manner, the essay by Berger and Kellner (1964) provides a richly layered conceptual understanding of everyday communication processes by which marital partners coconstruct the evolving reality of their relationship.

    While symbolic interaction formed an early and well-established foundation for developing studies of the family, the original 1930s formulation by Bateson of a system-based approach for studying relationships lay hidden and unrecognized until much later. The initial awareness of Bateson's early work came largely through the writings of the Palo Alto research group, particularly through the publication of Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson's (1967) Pragmatics of Human Communication. A 30-year time gap existed between Bateson's first publications and knowledge of his work by communication scholars. The Watzlawick et al. volume opened a window to a large set of readings that offered a systemic, process view of communication, a view that significantly influenced the field in general, particularly the study of family communication. Among these readings were Bateson's (1951, 1972) foundational writings that introduced what are now basic concepts in the field (e.g., levels of message meaning, metacommunication, schismogenesis, symmetry, and complementarity), along with Jackson's (1957, 1965) view of the family as a cybernetic system, Sluzki and Beavin's (1965) typology of dyads, Haley's (1963) communication control strategies, and many others. This work prompted further reading in family system therapy and the burgeoning area of clinical research on the family. For example, communication-centered writings—such as Lennard and Bernstein's (1969) focus on patterns of human interaction; Laing's (1969) politics of the family; Raush, Barry, Hertel, and Swain's (1974) communication in marital conflict; and Kantor and Lehr's (1975) model of family process—were important resources for how to conceptualize and design communication research. Bochner (1976) provides an extensive review of this large volume of early work in an influential essay outlining the conceptual frontiers of family communication. Two dissertations, credited with initiating family communication research, were completed during this period: Rogers's (1972) relational communication perspective for studying marital interaction patterns and Fitzpatrick's (1976) typological approach to the study of marital couple types. Since that time, the research accomplishments of an increasing number of family scholars have greatly enlarged our knowledge and understandings of marital and family relationships.

    The breadth and depth of family communication research continues to expand and benefit from the application of different theoretical approaches. The formulation of the dialectic perspective by Baxter and Montgomery (1996) and the related approach of Petronio (2002) on communication privacy management are of particular note. With the development of these approaches and the wealth of research generated from their application to the context of the family, dialectic thinking forms an additional foundational perspective for the field of family communication. Based on the “both/and” relational quality of dialectic tensions continually in flux within the unity of opposites, this perspective offers an alternative way of conceptualizing and investigating the dynamic interplay of the communication processes underlying family relationships.

    Family research has also been influenced by the increased practice of studying relationships from an interdisciplinary perspective. With additional conceptual approaches and multiple methodologies from which to draw, we have seen the scope of family study expand over the past two decades far beyond earlier research boundaries. Movements in the field have spread out over a large terrain of family-related topics with the investigation of different family forms; lifestyles; issues of diversity, health, and aging; violence and abuse; mass media and the Internet; family rituals; social support; attachment; and feelings and emotions—and the list goes on. Many of these current issues are addressed in subsequent chapters in this volume.

    A point to keep in mind, however, is that while the variability of family topics covered has increased, the variability of the family units and populations studied has not kept pace. Family research continues to focus primarily on the marital dyad and relatively young, educated, European American study participants. Based on a content analysis of nearly 1,000 family articles published in six mainstream family and personal relationship journals from 1994 to 1999, Fingerman and Hay (2002) found the marital relationship to be the most frequently studied family unit, with the majority of participants drawn from college student samples within an 18 to 44 age range. The authors did not track race or ethnicity, but given the sample base, it is not unlikely that a large proportion of the participants were European American. The overuse of college student samples clearly limits the diversity of our research. A call to move beyond the classroom is essential to widen the sampling lens for investigating many understudied arenas of family life. Likewise, although not diminishing the importance of studying marital relations, “family” research will take on new meaning and insights with the investigation of larger, multimember units of the family, as well as the full family unit. These issues are not to take away from present achievements but to further enhance the development of family communication research.

    A different mode for viewing the field's development is to reflect on the progressive movement toward solidifying family communication as an established field of study. A number of events, representing important first accomplishments, serve as “markers” in tracing this development. A beginning move in this direction was the first convention program devoted to family communication, titled “Studying Family Communication: Prospects, Problems and Research Methods.” This program, organized by Art Bochner, was presented at the 1974 Speech Communication Association meeting in Chicago. Bochner's promotion of this area of study and his formative papers (Bochner, 1974, 1976) on communication in families were influential in the initial identification of family communication as a separate research area. Also during this time period, the first college courses on family communication were being offered at a few universities: Michigan State, Temple, Cleveland State, University of Denver, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. By the 1980s, family communication courses were being taught across U.S. campuses. These first offerings used a variety of text materials, articles by the Palo Alto group, family sociologists, communication researchers, Satir's (1972) Peoplemaking, and Kantor and Lehr's (1975) Inside the Family. The first textbook on family communication was published in 1982 by Galvin and Brommel. Several other texts appeared in the late 1980s and early 1990s and, since that time, many more, all giving evidence of the growth of the field. No doubt many of the second and third generations of family scholars were first introduced to the field via these texts.

    The recognition of the field began to be more formally solidified in 1989, with the formation of the Commission of Family Communication within the National Communication Association. Six years later, with increasing members of the association identifying with family study, the Family Communication Division was established. Another step in establishing the visibility and identity of the field was taken with the publication ofthe first issue ofthe Journal of Family Communication in 2001, under the editorship of Tom Socha. And a recent capstone to the series of events marking the progress of the field is the 2004 Handbook of Family Communication, edited by Anita Vangelisti. With these past accomplishments, although only briefly sketched here, the progressive development of the field has established a strong momentum for future advances, with many of these unfolding at the present time.

    By continuing to build on the centrality of communication and the basic premise of its constitutive qualities, the theoretical perspective of family communication offers a particularly powerful approach for integrating family relationship research. The communication perspective holds the potential for bringing together two traditional arenas of family study, one giving primary attention to the individual members of the family and the other to the larger social unit and contextual aspects of the family. This approach provides an essential connective link between the two areas by focusing on the communicative processes of family relations in which the interrelated influences of the individual members and the larger social system are played out.

    From the early foundational work, the interwoven connection between communication and relationship has been central to the family communication perspective. In offering a reflective view on the development of the field, I see the continuing importance of the theoretical and practical implications of a communication perspective on the family reflected in this basic principle.

    Bateson, G.(1951). Information and codification: A philosophical approach. In J.Ruesch & G.Bateson (Eds.), Communication: The social matrix of psychiatry(pp. 168–211). New York: Norton.
    Bateson, G.(1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine.
    Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M.(1996). Relating: Dialogues and dialectics. New York: Guilford.
    Berger, P., & Kellner, H.(1964). Marriage and the construction of reality: An exercise in the microsociology of knowledge. Diogenes, 46, 1–25.
    Bochner, A. P.(1974, December). Family communication research: A critical review of approaches, methodologies and substantive findings. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Speech Communication Association, Chicago.
    Bochner, A. P.(1976). Conceptual frontiers in the study of communication in the family: An introduction to the literature. Human Communication Research, 2, 381–397.
    Burgess, E.(1926). The family as a unity of interacting personalities. The Family, 7, 3–9.
    Burgess, E., & Locke, H.(1945). The family from institution to companionship. New York: American Book Company.
    Fingerman, K., & Hay, E.(2002). Searching under the streetlight? Age biases in the personal and family relationships literature. Personal Relationships, 9, 415–433.
    Fitzpatrick, M. A.(1976). A typological approach to communication in relationships. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Temple University, Philadelphia.
    Galvin, K., & Brommel, B.(1982). Family communication: Cohesion and change. Glenville, IL: Scott Foresman.
    Haley, J.(1963). Strategies of psychotherapy. New York: Grune & Stratton.
    Hess, R., & Handel, G.(1959). Family worlds: A psychological approach to family life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Jackson, D.(1957). The question of family homeostasis. Psychiatric Quarterly Supplement, 31, 79–90.
    Jackson, D.(1965). The study of the family. Family Process, 4, 1–20.
    Kantor, D., & Lehr, W.(1975). Inside the family: Toward a theory of family process. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Laing, R. D.(1969). The politics of the family and other essays. New York: Random House.
    Lennard, H., & Bernstein, A.(1969). Patterns in human interaction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Nye, F. I., & Bernardo, F.(1966). Emerging conceptual frameworks in family analysis. New York: Macmillan.
    Petronio, S.(2002). The boundaries of privacy: Dialectics of disclosure. New York: State University of New York Press.
    Raush, H., Barry, W., Hertel, R., & Swain, M.(1974). Communication, conflict and marriage. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    Rogers, L. E.(1972). Dyadic systems and transactional communication in a family context. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
    Satir, V.(1972). Peoplemaking. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior Books.
    Sluzki, C., & Beavin, J. H.(1965). Simetria y complementaridad: Una definicion operacional y una tipologia de pardjas [Symmetry and complementarity: An operational definition and typology of couples]. Acta Psiquiatrica y Psicologica de America Latina, 11, 321–330.
    Vangelisti, A. L.(2004). Handbook of family communication. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    Waller, W.(1938). The family: A dynamic interpretation. New York: The Cordon Company.
    Waller, W., & Hill, R.(1951). The family: A dynamic interpretation. New York: Dryden.
    Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. H., & Jackson, D.(1967). Pragmatics of human communication. New York: Norton.
  • Epilogue: The Future of Family Communication Theory and Research

    Mary AnneFitzpatrickUniversity of South Carolina

    Our editors have assembled a stellar cast of authors who have produced thought-provoking analyses of communication in families. I have read each of the chapters in this book carefully and believe there is much to be learned by a detailed study of the works of these authors. I am honored to contribute the epilogue for such a fine collection.

    Epilogues have two very different meanings and functions. Both meanings have their roots in the theater. Sometimes, epilogues occur at the end of the play and tell the audience what happens to the characters in the future. At other times, epilogues function as swan songs, giving the last words of the dying central character. This chapter will serve both functions as I will point to new directions for research and theory in family communication even as I simultaneously present what will probably be some of my last words as a scholar of interpersonal communication before I disappear into full-time university administration. As I peer into the crystal ball, I will comment on what I see as three underlying themes in the book. The first centers on how we define and interpret the family; the second and third focus on theoretical and methodological considerations.

    Defining Family Communication

    To define family communication, a scholar needs a clear definition of the terms family and communication. Defining these terms requires a number of decisions on the part of the theorist as both terms are complex when seriously examined. Scholars of interpersonal communication in the family have struggled with definitions of family for at least 30 years. Consider, for example, that many scholars now avoid using the term family in the singular and prefer the plural. The title of the Journal of Marriage and “the” Family has recently dropped the the to avoid any implication that there is a single family form. Massive cultural changes have driven the scholarly community to examine, as does the society around us, our underlying presuppositions about family. Our taken-for-granted assumptions no longer automatically work in real life or in research. In this collection, we see several ways to approach defining family provided by Galvin (Chapter 1) and Floyd, Mikkelson, and Judd (Chapter 2).

    In our book, Patricia Noller and I (Noller & Fitzpatrick, 1993) settled on a transactional definition of family. Eschewing sociolegal or biological definitions of the family, we argued that family was a transactional system composed of intimates who shared an identity and a commitment to the future. In other words, if people had a close relationship (albeit not necessarily a warm one), acknowledged that they were members of a family, and had a sense of commitment to a future for the relationship, then they were a family. Members were able to define for themselves who was “in” and who was “out” of the family.

    To adopt a transactional definition of the family suggests that theories and research need to be open to considering all the variations of human social forms of relating when attempting to explain communication in relationships. This commitment requires, however, not simply examining various different forms of families (e.g., single parent, stepfamily) but also thinking seriously about the underlying relationship between these large sociological classifications/types and the concepts you are exploring. Structure is not destiny as Sabourin (2003) powerfully states. Consider, for example, that married couples who are in a long-distance commuter relationship may have less in common with married couples who share the same domicile than do cohabiting couples. That is, the daily stress (as well as support) of living in the same house may have a greater and more consistent impact on patterns of communication and conflict resolution than does the fact that couples are legally married. Or not.

    The transactional view of the family also places communication processes at the center of the definition. The definition of communication embedded in this view of the family includes both the interaction so eloquently discussed by Edna Rogers in the preface to this book as well as the cognitive and affective processes brought to family interactions. These cognitive and affective processes drive attention, perception, interpretation, and memory for communication messages in family. Indeed, the transactional definition not only privileges the range, diversity, and patterning of interaction important to Rogers, but also this definition includes the development of intersubjectivity (i.e., some sense of shared social reality) among family members. The mental models and associated affect that individuals and families construct about their relationships are equally important for a definition of family communication.

    In my own work in marital and family communication, I have always adopted a transactional definition of the family in that I have a broad view in sampling family forms. In addition, the dimensions of interdependence, ideology, expressivity, and conformity that I investigated in my programs of research, as well as the interrelationships among these dimensions, were the central defining features in a variety of family and close interpersonal relationships forms (Koerner & Fitzpatrick, 2002). This does not mean, however, that there is the same number of different types of relationships within every sample of couples or families examined. In a sample of stepfamilies, gay marriages, single-parent households, and so on, research may predict that there will be a predominance of different types of couples or families.

    Although adopting a transactional definition of the family is a satisfying solution to the definitional issue in many ways, the transactional definition demands some serious rethinking of our theoretical and methodological work.

    Theoretical Considerations

    A transactional definition of family brings to the fore a consideration not only of different forms but also a more serious focus on emotions in human relationships. That is, this definition allows individuals to broaden the boundaries of what constitutes a family. Families are not merely constituted in reference to legal or biological factors but can be formed through emotional ties. With some few exceptions (i.e., attachment theory), our theories of interpersonal communication in the family are fairly bloodless and without reference to the context in which family members find themselves outside of the family system.

    That is, few theories of family communication capture the truly remarkable range of human emotions that occur within the family context. As we know, communication in the family can lead to some of life's most wonderful and most unbearable moments. Few of our theories deal with intense human emotions. Sillars and Weisberg (1987) reminded us that family conflict is often chaotic and unresolved over long periods of time. Jacobson and Gottman (1998) studied violent psychopaths who brutalized their wives. But curiously, the influence of those who study emotions is not as widespread as one would assume in family communication research.

    I have a novel on my desk as I write this chapter. Set in Afghanistan, The Swallows of Kabul, written by a male Algerian army officer under a female pseudonym, tells the story of death and sacrifice in two marriages. One is an upper-middle-class love match between Zunaira and Mohsen. The other is the marriage of a poor jailor, Atiq, and his dying wife. After the war with the Russians, the streets of Kabul are rendered uninhabitable by the Taliban. Zunaira resists leaving the house as she does not want to experience directly the repressions that exist in her society. If she stays within her home and with her family, she can convince herself that life is bearable. Lured into a walk by her naive, albeit loving, husband, she witnesses too much random violence and brutality, and it kills her sense of security and her love for Mohsen. After the walk, Mohsen and Zunaira struggle, and he accidentally falls to his death. Zunaira is jailed to await her own execution for Mohsen's murder. Atiq, the jailor, falls in love with the beautiful Zunaira, but he does not even recognize the emotion. Only his frail wife, who has loved him deeply for many years, knows what emotion he is feeling. As her last act of love for her husband, Atiq's wife sacrifices herself to make it possible for him to be with Zunaira.

    Few of our theories deal with these passions and the effects of context on our deepest emotions. In the novel, one woman resists the role that society forces on her and turns on the husband who cannot understand her humiliation, whereas another woman lays down her own life so that her husband can know love—even as he does not know she is taking this action. What in their patterns of interactions could predict such emotional depths?

    In addition, few of our theories could answer the following question: In what ways and why did the external social context affect the deepest emotional responses that these family members had toward one another? Surely, love conquers all. The entire last section of this book struggles with the issue of context, and it is only in understanding the context in which families find themselves that we can truly develop better models and theories of family communication.

    Methodological Considerations

    A transactional definition of the family brings into view a consideration of different forms. In particular, our methods for studying family communication require a focus on the sampling of actors, behaviors, and contexts.

    We have seen that the transactional definition broadens the number of actors who may be considered part of the family even as it makes sampling of those actors a more difficult task. Researchers who are attempting to sample actors in families, holding to the transactional definition, are on difficult terrain. Even as researchers may be committed to opening up the sample, they must always be concerned about the basic principle of empirical social science: Maximize the variation between groups and minimize the variation within groups. Although one would want to include single-parent families in a study, researchers may not have a large enough sample of these families to enable looking at their data separately. In any given study, this is a trade-off that needs to be carefully weighed. That is, scholars need to think carefully about how to draw large enough samples of diverse family types to discover the similarities and differences in their communication practices.

    Once researchers have decided on which actors to sample, they need to think seriously about the behaviors they are sampling. That is, are they drawing from their participants a range of communication behaviors that will tap the phenomena in the best way? Emotional messages, for example, may more likely be communicated through nonverbal channels, and various family members may use different channels to express emotions. And gender may play a large role in certain family interactions. Gender differences are not manifest in all contexts but may be especially salient in specific family situations. Family may be a site for the development and drawing out of gender roles and gender differences. And scholars need to be careful not to cap the gender lens too soon when viewing close relationships.

    Finally, the sampling of contexts also becomes important in a transactional model of the family. This book focuses on key external structural factors that interface with family processes: media, work, religion, school, and medicine. This set of frameworks is indeed comprehensive and is one set of “contextual factors” for researchers to consider. My sense of sampling of contexts, however, differs from that presented in this book. In my view, sampling contexts for understanding family communication involves shifting the frame for analysis of the family. This could take a variety of different patterns. That is, a researcher could be interested in the public/private dimension, the father present/absent dimension, the conflict/casual interaction dimension, and so forth.

    These dimensions may be more psychologically real for family members and thus more likely to affect interaction patterns and the interpretation of messages.


    Perhaps the warning note upon which I will end this epilogue is that defining your terms in a meaningful way instantiates an entire set of other decisions and choices. In my own work over the past 30 years, I have always been involved in variations on a theme. That is, I have spent my scholarly career trying to uncover patterns to describe transactional systems. Across many years and many studies, I have tried to sample actors, behaviors, and contexts to understand family communication patterns and processes. I have uncovered patterned regularities in family interaction and specific demonstrable differences in message interpretation processes. My work has always been, at base, optimistic. For as I have written about communication in family, I make the assumption that it is possible, not easy or trivial, for people to communicate with one another.

    At the beginning of this chapter, I promised that I would give a sense of the future of theory and research on family communication. Clearly, the future is bright as evidenced by the thoughtful work of the authors and the editors of this volume. Optimism is alive and well in the field.

    Jacobson, N., & Gottman, J. M.(1998). When men batter women. New York: Simon & Schuster.
    Koerner, A., & Fitzpatrick, M. A.(2002). Toward a theory of family communication. Communication Theory, 12, 70–91.
    Noller, P., & Fitzpatrick, M. A.(1993). Communication in family relationships. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    Sabourin, T. C.(2003). The contemporary American family. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Sillars, A., & Weisberg, J.(1987). Conflict as a social skill. In M.Roloff & G. R.Miller (Eds.), Interpersonal processes(pp. 140–171). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

    Author Index

    About the Editors

    Lynn H. Turner (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is Professor of Communication Studies in the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. Her research areas of interest include interpersonal, gendered, and family communication. She is the coauthor or coeditor of over 10 books as well as several articles and book chapters (many with Rich West). Lynn has served in a number of different positions: Director of Graduate Studies for the College of Communication at Marquette University; President of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (OSCLG); President of Central States Communication Association (CSCA); and Chair of the Family Communication Division for the National Communication Association. In her free time, Lynn delights in babysitting for her grandchildren.

    Richard West (Ph.D., Ohio University) is Professor in the Department of Communication & Media Studies at the University of Southern Maine. His research spans a number of different areas, including family communication, instructional practices, and classroom communication. Rich is the coauthor (with Lynn Turner) of numerous textbooks, book chapters, and research articles. Rich is the current Director of the Educational Policies Board of the National Communication Association and the Vice President of the Eastern Communication Association. He lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and dedicates his free time to fixing up his 100-year-old bungalow.

    About the Contributors

    Alison Alexander (Ph.D., Ohio State University) is Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She was editor of the Journal of Broadcasting& Electronic Media and is past president of the Association for Communication Administration and the Eastern Communication Association. Her work focuses on media and the family. She is the author of over 40 book chapters or journal articles and the coeditor of four books. She was named the 1998 Frank Stanton Fellow by the International Radio & Television Society for “outstanding contribution to broadcast education.”

    Dustin J. Anderson (M.A., English, Iowa State University; M.A., Communication, University of Dayton) is Instructor of Communication at the University of Dayton. From 2002–2006, he was the assistant editor for the journal Health Communication. His interests have included general message framing techniques for public communication campaigns, effects of video games and comic books on children, and health communication theory. Most recently, his work has focused on effects of various message strategies on potential organ donors.

    Sharon Atkin (B.A., University of Queensland) is a graduate student in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. Her main interest is in the family relationships of adolescents, and she has had a lot of experience working with troubled adolescents and their families.

    Deborah S. Ballard-Reisch (Ph.D., Bowling Green State University) is Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Nevada, Reno. Her research interests include family and couple communication, health and risk communication, international women's health, and narrative theory. She coedited a volume on Communication and Sex Role Socialization, as well as special issues of Women and Language and the Journal of Family Communication. She has served in a variety of positions: Director of Graduate Studies, Faculty Senate Chair, Assistant Director of Honors, and President of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender (OSCLG).

    Leslie A. Baxter (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is the F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. She focuses her research on communication in personal and familial relationships, with a particular focus on the competing discourses that animate relating. She has published over 100 books, chapters, and articles, most recently Engaging Theories in Family Communication: Multiple Perspectives (with Dawn Braithwaite). She is a Past President of the Western States Communication Association. She has earned a variety of awards, including the Knower and Miller Awards from the Interpersonal Division of the National Communication Association.

    Dawn O. Braithwaite (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is Professor of Communication Studies at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She focuses her scholarship on communication in personal and family relationships, studying relational dialectics, rituals, and social support in the context of stepfamilies, elderly couples, and people with disabilities. She has published three books and over 50 articles and chapters in scholarly books, most recently Engaging Theories in Family Communication: Multiple Perspectives (with Leslie Baxter). She is a Past President of the Western States Communication Association and is the current Director of the National Communication Association Research Board.

    J. Alison Bryant (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is Research Director for Nickelodeon's Consumer Insights group. Her current research focuses on the role of digital media in kids' lives and the changing relationship between parents, kids, and the media. She is the editor of The Children's Television Community and coeditor of Television and the American Family (2nd ed.).

    Jennings Bryant (Ph.D., Indiana University) is the CIS Distinguished Research Professor, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and Reagan Chair of Broadcasting in the College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama. His research interests are in entertainment theory, media effects, media and children, and media and family. He served as President of the International Communication Association in 2002–2003 and received the University of Alabama's Blackmon-Moody Outstanding Professor Award in 2000.

    Leah E. Bryant (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is Assistant Professor in the Communication Department at DePaul University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in interpersonal, family, gender, and small group communication as well as relational problems. Her research interests include family, relational, and instructional communication. Her current research focuses on communication in stepfamilies formed following the death of a parent. Her work has been published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Communication Studies, Communication Research Reports, and Qualitative Research Reports.

    Patrice M. Buzzanell (Ph.D., Purdue University) is Professor in the Communication Department at Purdue University, where she specializes in feminist theorizing and gendered workplace processes, particularly as they relate to careers. She has published in Communication Theory, Human Communication Research, Communication

    Monographs, Management Communication Quarterly, and Journal of Applied Communication Research and has (co)edited two books, Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication From Feminist Perspectives and Gender in Applied Communication Contexts.

    Jeffrey T. Child (B.S., Wayne State College) is a Communication Graduate Teaching Assistant and Direct-to-Doctorate Ph.D. student at North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota. His research interests include technology and the family, research methods, and instructional development and technology. He has published in a number of different journals, including Communication Education, Communication Quarterly, and College Student Journal.

    Pamela Cooper (Ph.D., Purdue University) is Professor at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. She taught for 25 years at Northwestern University and 2 years at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has published in the areas of intercultural communication, gender, classroom communication, communication education, and storytelling.

    Fran C. Dickson (Ph.D., Bowling Green State University) is Associate Professor and chair of the Department of Human Communication Studies at the University of Denver. Her research interests include communication in later-life marriage and the aging process.

    Steve Duck (Ph.D., University of Sheffield/UK) is Professor of Communication Studies and the Daniel and Amy Starch Research Chair at the University of Iowa. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and the editor or author of 42 books on personal relationships. In addition, he founded the International Network on Personal Relationships (now merged into the International Association for Relationship Research) and two series of international conferences on relationships.

    Judith A. Feeney (Ph.D., University of Queensland) is Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. She is well known for her research on adult attachment, which she has studied across a range of contexts, including dating relationships, newlyweds, and couples going through the transition to parenthood. She has authored several books, including Adult Attachment, Becoming Parents: Exploring the Bonds Between Mothers, Fathers and Their Infants and Personal Relationships Across the Lifespan. She has also coedited Understanding Marriage: Developments in the Study of Marital Interaction (with Patricia Noller). She has also published extensively in journals such as Personal Relationships and written a number of book chapters.

    Mary Anne Fitzpatrick (Ph.D., Temple University) is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina. The primary focus of her research has been on communication processes in marriage and the family. A past president of the International Communication Association, she received its 2001 Career Achievement Award for sustained excellence in communication research. In 1993, she was elected a Fellow of the same association. An internationally recognized authority on interpersonal communication, she is the author of over 100 articles, chapters, and books. The NIH, NIMH, and the Spencer Foundation have supported her research.

    Kory Floyd (Ph.D., University of Arizona) is Associate Professor of Human Communication and Director of the Communication Sciences Laboratory at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the communication of affection in families and other personal relationships, as well as on the interplay between communication, physiology, and health. He has authored five books and over 60 journal articles and book chapters and is editor of Journal of Family Communication.

    Megan K. Foley (M.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) is a Presidential Graduate Fellow in Communication Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on the interrelationship of the communicative act, agency, and structure. She is exploring this interest in the context of family discourse with a particular focus on intimate partner violence.

    Kathleen M. Galvin (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. She is the senior author of Family Communication: Cohesion and Change (6th ed.) and developer of the PBS distance learning package in family communication. She is the author or coauthor of seven other communication books and has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals. Her current research is focused on the communicative construction of family identity as reflected in current studies on gay male parenting and international adoption. She teaches in the areas of relational communication and family communication.

    Elizabeth E. Graham (Ph.D., Kent State University) is Professor of Communication Studies at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She teaches courses in interpersonal communication, research methods, and statistics at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to being a faculty member, she also serves as the University Ombuds and has served in this position since 2002. Her research interests include communication in reconstituted families, and she is coediting a new edition of the Communication Research Measures Sourcebook.

    Theresa L. Hest (Ph.D., North Dakota State University) is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Minnesota State University Moorhead. She teaches courses in interpersonal communication, family communication, communication theory, teaching methods, and gender communication. She is actively involved in academic service learning. She is a partner in a family farming operation and a mother of three.

    Patrick C. Hughes (Ph.D., University of Denver) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas Tech University. His research interests include family communication and religious and cultural influences on marital communication.

    Susanne M. Jones (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests include the study of emotional support, communication of emotion, and nonverbal communication. Her research has appeared in Human Communication Research, Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Western Journal of Communication, and Sex Roles.

    Jeff Judd (B.A., Arizona State University) is a graduate student in human communication at Arizona State University (ASU). His research interests focus on emotion in friendships and on communication and physiology. At ASU, he works in the communication sciences laboratory and has coauthored papers on the relationship between affectionate communication and stress. He is the editorial assistant for Journal of Family Communication.

    Rebecca Kallemeyn is an undergraduate at Calvin College and a National Merit scholar. She is majoring in dramaturgy and is planning on attending graduate school.

    Seok Kang (Ph.D., University of Georgia) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech, Theatre, and Journalism at Arkansas Tech University, Russellville. His research interests focus on digital media and family communication, entertainment education, and cyber communication. He is particularly interested in the effects of the Internet and online interaction on offline behaviors, including psychosocial well-being. His works have appeared in Public Relations Review, Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Mass Communication & Society, and Journal of Asian Pacific Communication.

    Yeora Kim (Ph.D., University of Georgia) is a lecturer at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, Korea. She did postdoctoral research at Sogang University at Seoul, Korea. She studies children's media use, including new technology; family communication, including parental mediation on children's media use within the home; and health communication, specially focusing on health communication issues on the Internet.

    Emily Lamb (M.S., Illinois State University) is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She serves as the Associate Director of the university's basic communication course and also teaches classes in public speaking, communication theory, and interpersonal communication. Her research interests include emotional, relational, and supportive communication in dating, marital, and familial relationships. She is an active member of the National Communication Association, the Central States Communication Association, and the International Association for Relationship Research.

    Kristin M. Langellier (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University) is the Mark and Marcia Bailey Professor at the University of Maine, where she teaches communication, performance studies, and women's studies. Her research interests are narrative performance, family storytelling, and Franco American cultural identity. Her numerous publications include Storytelling in Daily Life: Performing Narrative (2004), coau-thored with Eric E. Peterson. She is a former editor of Text and Performance Quarterly.

    Kristen Lucas (Ph.D., Purdue University) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests focus on dignity in the workplace, career discourses, blue-collar organizations, and the intersection of work and technology. Her dissertation research explores how family-based, work-related communication shapes the careers of adult sons and daughters of blue-collar workers, particularly when blue-collar jobs are no longer available due to deindustrialization. She has published in Journal of Applied Communication Research and Communication Research.

    Caryn E. Medved (Ph.D., University of Kansas) is Assistant Professor at Ohio University. Her research interests explore the intersections between organizational and family communication, with particular attention to issues of identity, gender, and power. Her work has appeared in outlets such as Management Communication Quarterly, Communication Yearbook, Journal of Applied Communication, Communication Studies, and Journal of Family Communication. Most recently, her research has investigated the use of corporate or managerial discourses in the communicative construction of domestic work and care labor for stay-at-home mothers.

    Sandra Metts (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is Professor in the School of Communication at Illinois State University, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in interpersonal communication, language, human communication and aging, and research methods. Her research interests include relationship disengagement, deception, sexual communication, emotional expression, facework, and politeness. She is the former president of the Central States Communication Association and the recipient of the University Outstanding Teacher Award and the Teaching Excellence Award of the International Association for Relationship Research. She has served as the editor of Communication Reports and associate editor of Personal Relationships and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and she also serves on several editorial boards for regional, national, and international journals.

    Alan C. Mikkelson (M.A., Arizona State University) is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Whitworth College. He is completing his Ph.D. in human communication at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the communication of closeness among siblings and other family relationships. He has coauthored one book and several journal articles and book chapters and serves on the editorial board of Journal of Family Communication.

    Courtney Waite Miller (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is Assistant Professor in the Communication Arts and Sciences department at Elmhurst College. She focuses her research on interpersonal communication—specifically, conflict in close relationships. She has authored or coauthored several book chapters and journal articles and has presented her research at national and international academic conferences.

    Scott A. Myers (Ph.D., Kent State University) is Associate Professor and Coordinator of On-Campus Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication Studies at West Virginia University. His research focuses on the study of sibling relationships, students' motives for communicating with their instructors, and instructor aggressive communication. His work has been published in Communication Research Reports, Communication Education, Communication Quarterly, and Western Journal of Communication. He is the coauthor of The Basics of Small Group Communication and is the former editor of Communication Teacher.

    Patricia Noller (Ph.D., University of Queensland) is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland. For 7 years, she was Director of the University of Queensland Family Centre. She has published extensively in the area of marital and family relationships, including 12 books and over a hundred journal articles and book chapters. She is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and of the National Council on Family Relationships (USA). She has served on a number of editorial boards and was appointed as foundation editor of Personal Relationships: Journal of the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships, a position that she held from 1993 to 1997. She was president of that society from 1998 to 2000.

    Alda Norris (M.A., Purdue University) is a Ph.D. student at Purdue University. Her research interests include interpersonal communication as well as sociolinguistics.

    Donna R. Pawlowski (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and a Service-Learning Faculty Development Fellow at Creighton University, where she teaches courses in theory, interpersonal communication, family, health, and managerial communication. Her research and publications focus on relational and familial communication, with an emphasis on health care and acute illness, metaphors and dialectics, and instructional communication and pedagogical implications of service learning. She has held various positions for both the Central States Communication Association and the National Communication Association. She is an editorial board member for Communication Studies and the Journal of Business Communication.

    Judy C. Pearson (Ph. D., Indiana University) is Associate Dean of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Professor of Communication at North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota. She is a past president of the National Communication Association, the Central States Communication Association, and the World Communication Association. She has administered and taught at Indiana University, Bradley University, Purdue University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Ohio University, and Virginia Tech. She is particularly proud of the work of her advisees, including Theresa Hest and Jeff Child.

    Loretta L. Pecchioni (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. Her research interests focus on the development and maintenance of interpersonal relationships across the life span, as highlighted by the management of health crises within the family. Specific research projects have examined decision making related to care-giving in older mother-daughter relationships and the management of health crises by marital couples.

    Candida Peterson (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. She has been teaching life span developmental psychology at universities in the United States and Australia since 1971. Her textbook, Looking Forward Through the Lifespan: Developmental Psychology, guides much of this teaching and is now in its fourth edition. Her research centers on discovering how processes of communication, conversation, and conflict resolution in the family influence psychological development and social understanding, particularly at key sociocognitive turning points in the life span, including preschool and adolescence. Her recent discoveries of links between family communication and social cognition for deaf children, blind children, and those with autism raise interesting applied questions about how social and conversational experiences may relate to psychological development in the context of communication impairment.

    Eric E. Peterson (Ph.D., Southern Illinois University) is Professor at the University of Maine, where he teaches in the Department of Communication and Journalism. His research and teaching interests are in narrative performance, media consumption, nonverbal communication, and communication diversity and identity. He is coauthor with Kristin M. Langellier of Storytellingin Daily Life: Performing Narrative (2004) and coeditor of Public Broadcasting and the Public Interest (2003).

    Sandra Petronio (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis; core faculty in the Indiana University Center for Bioethics in the School of Medicine; and adjunct faculty in the IU School of Nursing and the IU School of Informatics. Her research areas are in privacy, disclosure, and confidentiality. She developed communication privacy management theory, and her 2002 book on the theory, Boundaries of Privacy: Dialectics of Disclosure, won the Gerald R. Miller Award from the National Communication Association (2003) and the book award from the International Association of Relationship Research (2004). She commences her post as the new president of the International Association of Relationship Research in July 2006, and she is a past president of the Western States Communication Association. She has been honored with the Bernard J. Brommel Family Communication Award for outstanding scholarship and distinguished service in family communication from the National Communication Association. In 2003, she was the first recipient of the Bernard Brock Research Award bestowed by Wayne State University's Department of Communication. In June 2005, she was invited to give a congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on issues of privacy.

    Jessica J. Rack (M.A., University of Cincinnati) is a Ph.D. student at Purdue University. Her research interests include communication in marriage, family communication, language and gender, social cognition, computer-mediated communication, and communication apprehension.

    Christine E. Rittenour (M.A., West Virginia University) is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her primary research areas are family, interpersonal, and relational communication. She examines the functions of conflict, support, and commitment as well as the roles of attributions and storytelling in the construction and management of individual and relational identities. Her work has been published in the Iowa Journal of Communication.

    L. Edna Rogers (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is Professor of Communication at the University of Utah. She is a past president of the International Communication Association and recipient of a number of distinguished teaching and research awards. Her research on interpersonal relationships focuses on the study of marital and family communication with the book, Relational Communication: An Interactional Perspective to the Study of Process and Form (2004), among her recent publications.

    Michael E. Roloff (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. He researches in the area of conflict management. He wrote Interpersonal Communication: The Social Exchange Approach and coedited Persuasion: New Directions in Theory and Research (with Gerald R. Miller), Interpersonal Processes: New Directions in Communication Research (with Gerald R. Miller), Social Cognition and Communication (with Charles R. Berger), and Communication and Negotiation (with Linda Putnam). He has published in journals such as Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Human Communication Research, International Journal of Conflict Management, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Personal Relationships. He is also the Senior Associate Editor of The International Journal of Conflict Management. He served as editor of The Communication Yearbook and is coeditor of Communication Research.

    Teresa C. Sabourin (Ph.D., Purdue University) is Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in family communication, interpersonal communication, and group communication. Her research interests include relational patterns of abusive couples, verbal aggression, and dialectical management in abusive and recovering families. She is the author of The Contemporary American Family: A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Relationships (2003). She is a founding member of the Family Communication Division of the National Communication Association and serves on several editorial boards for regional and national journals.

    Paul Schrodt (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. He specializes in family and relational communication, as well as in instructional communication. His research has explored communication cognitions and behaviors that facilitate family functioning, specifically examining coparenting and stepparenting relationships in stepfamilies and the associations among family communication schemata and family functioning. His research has appeared in Human Communication Research, Communication Monographs, and Communication Education.

    Xiaowei Shi (M.A., DePaul University) is a third-year doctoral student at Purdue University. Her interest focuses on persuasive message production in interpersonal and intercultural communication settings.

    Thomas J. Socha (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is University Professor and Associate Professor of Communication at Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA). In family communication, he has published two coedited books, numerous book chapters, and articles that collectively examine aspects of parent-child communication, children's communication, and family communication and ethnic culture. His current projects include a coedited book about parent-child interfacings with social systems outside the home, a study of parent-child communication among the blind, and development of positive communication theorizing.

    Helen Sterk (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is Chair and Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. At Calvin, she has held the Spoelhof Teacher-Scholar Chair and is the 2006–2007 Calvin Lecturer. Her publications include, with Patrice Buzzanell and Lynn Turner, Gender in Applied Communication Contexts (2004) and, with Carla Hay, Alice Kehoe, Krista Ratcliffe, and Leona Vande Vusse, Who's Having This Baby? (2002).

    Teresa L. Thompson (Ph.D., Temple University) is Professor of Communication at the University of Dayton. She has published five books and over 40 articles relating to various aspects of health communication in such outlets as Human Communication Research, Public Opinion Quarterly, and Social Science and Medicine. Her early work focused on communication and disability issues and then moved to the study of health care provider-patient interaction. She edits the international journal Health Communication. Her current work emphasizes organ donation issues and family communication.

    Lisa Tirmenstein (M.A., Purdue University) is living and working in Ohio and applying to law schools.

    Daniel J. Weigel (Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno) is Professor with the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and serves as a Human Development Specialist for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. His research interests include family and couple relationships—especially communication, commitment, and change—as well as parent-child interaction. He has published widely in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Personal Relationships, Journal of Family Communication, Communication Reports, and Family Relations. He coedited a special issue of the Journal of Family Communication and has written chapters in Maintaining Relationships Through Communication and Handbook of Interpersonal Commitment and Relationship Stability.

    Steven R. Wilson (Ph.D., Purdue University) is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication at Purdue University. His research and teaching focus on influence and conflict processes in families, friendships, and work relationships. He is the author of Seeking and Resisting Compliance: Why We Say What We Do When Trying to Influence Others (2002), as well as of about 50 peer-reviewed articles and scholarly book chapters on these topics. He has served as associate editor for the interdisciplinary journal Personal Relationships (2001–2003), as well as chair of the interpersonal communication divisions for both the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association.

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