The Contemporary American Family: A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Relationships / Edition 1

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Increasingly diverse in structure and culture, contemporary families defy explanation by many traditional, linear methods. In order to understand the enormous impact that diversity has on the behaviors and relationships within the family, scholars and students need a means to embrace, rather than solve, relational contradictions. The Contemporary American Family: A Dialectical Perspective 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: A Dialectical Perspective is also an invaluable resource for students in Family Studies and Women's Studies courses.

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Editorial Reviews

Vince Bloom

I find the book extremely attractive. The dialectical perspective provides a consistent avenue from which to address the diversity (structural, cultural, developmental, and functional) in Contemporary American Families. Whereas this perspective does not claim to solve the tensions in families, it offers marvelous insights into the nature and changing diversities in families. I believe this text is particularly well suited for reasonable discussion of serious issues and provides valuable insights into the nature of families and their functioning.

Art Bochner

"Teresa Chandler Sabourin invites students to appreciate the mystery, complexity, and diversity of the contemporary American family. Resisting simplistic descriptions and normative descriptions, Sabourin challenges us to open our minds and hearts to the rich, humane variety of family connections as we search for ways to accommodate the competing demands and conflicting pressures experienced in our most cherished relationships. Starting from the source of her own experience, Sabourin addresses both the darker, abusive side of family relationships, as well as the lighter, spiritual side of intimacy and love. The Contemporary American Family successfully addresses the need for an accessible and teachable treatment of the dialectical perspective on close relationships. This is a book that will encourage students of family communication to respect diversity, question taken-for-granted assumptions, and share the pain and joy and of their own family experiences."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761924463
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 4/7/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Dialectical Approach to Family
Conceptual tools
Basic concepts
Dialectical management patterns
Interface of culture patterns
Dialectical classifications
Chapter 2: Defining the Contemporary Family
Defining family
Criteria for defining family
Chapter 3: Structural Diversity
Contemporary family structures
Nuclear family
Single parent family
Blended family
Chapter 4: Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity in the family
Religion and family culture
Diversity in sexual orientation
Racial and ethnic diversity
Chapter 5: Developmental Diversity
Approaches to development
The family life cycle approach
The learning approach
A dialectical approach
Chapter 6: Functional Diversity
Functional diversity and the family
The impact of alcoholism on the family
Domestic violence
The dark side of divorce
Chapter 7: Family Spirituality
Bringing light into darkness
A spiritual approach
12-Step programs
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