The Contemporary American Family: A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Relationships recognizes that families are both close and distant, stable and changing, amenable and uncontrollable. Teresa Chandler Sabourin employs a dialectical approach, acknowledging that a family’s contradictions and relational tensions may be the determining factor in its interaction. Writing in a direct and simple style, Sabourin uses this innovative theoretical position to address four types of family diversity: structural, cultural, developmental, and functional. Designed as a supplemental text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in Family Communication, The Contemporary American Family is also an invaluable resource for students in Family Studies and Women’s Studies courses.    

A Dialectical Approach to Family
A dialectical approach to family

The life of a family is dynamic and changing. Culturally and structurally, “America is made up of a multiplicity of family types, including two-parent families, one-parent families, cohabiting families, gay and lesbian families, and extended-family households” (Teachman, Tedrow, & Crowder, 2000, p. 1234). At the individual level, families can be intimate one moment and distant the next. The family must also maintain a degree of stability while simultaneously adapting to change. These opposing tensions, or connected opposites, are the main focus of a dialectical approach to family communication. Throughout this chapter, I provide an explanation of a dialectical view as a way to understand how families can manage these contradictory tensions. This view emphasizes the family ...

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