• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

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.    

Functional Diversity in the Family: The Dark Side
Functional diversity in the family: The dark side

Given a dialectical approach to family life, there is no such thing as a purely functional or a purely dysfunctional family. The embracing stance of the dialectic considers the functional and dysfunctional to be chronotopically connected. This means that dysfunctional and functional are relative to a time and place, with fluid meaning attached by any given family member. As a result, it is more correct to speak of a family as functional and dysfunctional instead of functional or dysfunctional. Interactional and praxical patterns are relatively constructive or destructive, and their meaning will change over time.

Contextually, society must accept that the ideal family, one that is purely functional, does not exist. ...

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