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Rethinking Relationships

Rethinking Relationships

October 2010 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Relationships are far more than emotional attachments or bonds. They are not merely happy, emotionally satisfying elements of our lives but they significantly shape our experiences of the world and contribute to our senses of identity, our outlook on life, and even the way in which we think about things. In Rethinking Relationships, noted human relationship scholar and professor, Steve Duck, integrates diverse systems of thought and offers a new and distinct way to think about relationships and relating. The book deals with such questions as "How do people know their world?", "How much of what we know is individual knowledge and how much comes from groups and our personal relationships to other people?" and "How does membership of relationships structure our experience, affect our ranges of knowledge, and organize our daily lives?"

The book introduces a variety of communicative situations by means of which individuals establish, reconstitute, and demonstrate their membership of communities and relationships. However, the book also develops the idea that these relational activities serve epistemic functions, which is to say that they construct, constrain, or facilitate means through which a person knows and experiences the world. Relationships are more than satisfying reliable alliances with others; rather they are communicative loci where the person's knowledge of life is shaped, formed, and interpreted. Thus relationships are both an influence on our ways of thinking and also are places where we sculpt our identity and learn or modify our worth to others.

Features & Benefits:

• Interdisciplinary approach and draws on the conceptual frameworks for many different scholarly traditions, providing the reader with a truly holistic perspective

• Pedagogy that connects the material to students' lives:

• "Try this out" section in each chapter indicates ways in which students can employ the concepts used in the chapter. Students are encouraged and directed to refer the abstract concepts discussed in the chapter to their own daily experience.

• "Look for this in the media": students are guided to discover examples of a concept as presented by TV and other media.

• "Listen to your own conversations": students are encouraged to attend carefully to their own conversations and glean evidence to illustrate items discussed in each chapter.

• "Keep a journal": students are encouraged to keep a journal for class discussion and will be asked to record and report on their observations about experiences in their daily life that would help to illustrate the chapter concepts.

• "Self questions": students are presented at the end of each chapter with a number of questions that invite them to reflect on their own performance of relationships.

• "Practical matters": students are directed to some issues in the chapter that have practical application in the broader social world beyond their academic or personal experiences.

1. Old and New Ways of Seeing Relationships
What Do Relationships Do For You?

A Brisk Look at Research and Assumptions

A Different Approach

Do Relationships Make You Who You Are?


A Preview of the Book

2. Personal and Social Orders: Relating, Meaning and Talking
Two Important Ideas: Social and Personal Orders of the New World

The Social Order and the Language of Relationships


3. What Has Personality Got to Do With Relationships?
What Is Personality Anyway?

The Early Years: Formation of Personality and Relationship Style

How Does Personality Connect to Relationships?

The Answer


4. The Bodily Materiality of Relating
Symbolically Connecting the Material World to the Social World

The Material World and Sociability

Experienceing a Material Self

Physical Experiences the Influence Relationships



5. Sense and Sensuality: The Relationship Between Sexual Activity and Knowledge of the World
Physical Performance of Emotions and Feelings

Sex and Society

Three Theories of Sexual Epistemics

Epistemics and Various Social Orders


6. Wealth, Place, Gifts, and Rituals: The Material Structures and Practices of Relational Experience
The Material Circumstances of Relationships

Material Social Circumstances and Relationships

Material Gifts and Relationships



7. The Language of Relationships in a Social Order
Language in a Social Order

The Rhetorical Situation

Symbolic Structures in Talk: Metaphors in a Social Order

Stories About Relationships in the Social Order

Connection to the Next Chapter


8. Talk and Speaking Personal Orders
The Surroundings of Conversation

Forms of Talk and Speaking

Getting to Know You: Unscrambling Another Person's World of Meaning

The New Look at Relationships


About the Author

A good resource to contribute to and complement lecture material. Boxes which prompt discussion and personal reflection make this a very student-friendly text and the content is engaging and clear.

Dr Laura Soulsby
Department of Psychology, Liverpool University
April 4, 2014

Very interesting how it makes your rethink all you know about interpersonal relationships.

Mrs Maartje De Graaf
Media, Communication & Organisation, Twente University
November 19, 2013

Locates thinking about relationships in a wide and relevant context.

Mr Keith Walmsley-Smith
Psychology & Mental Health, Staffordshire University
February 7, 2013

An exceptional book for those interested in moving beyond mainstream accounts of relationships. Duck is taking a truly relational view by focussing on the role of language, broader systems of meaning, and lived experience. Would recommend this to all relationships researchers. Also written in a clear, accessible style.

Mr Matthew Colahan
School of Psychology, University of East London
December 14, 2012

Comprehensive on human relationship topics.

April 30, 2012

I have already submitted feedback for this text

Mr Mark Timoney
Humanities , Sligo Institute of Technology
April 4, 2012

The course is an introductory course for university, and the current text puts a little more emphasis on field experiences than on theory. This text is more focused on theory, and we felt it would be a more difficult text to work with at this level and for our purposes.

Professor Ron Thiessen
Humanities , Concordia University
November 2, 2011

Very interesting perspective from a highly respected expert in this field. Probably too advanced to adopt as a core text within my undergraduate courses but it will form the basis of tutorial discussion groups.

Dr Ian Tyndall
Psychology and Counselling, Chichester University
August 5, 2011

This text appears more useful for graduate level students in family studies or interpersonal relationships than my undergraduates.

Dr G. Kevin Randall
Education, Bradley University
March 28, 2011

A well written und very student-friendly book, covering important aspects of interracial communication and its many pitfalls. The author and student reflections used throughout the whole book are a useful and welcome chance for self-reflection.
Since it's main concern lies with developments in the United States some of the content is not as useful when teaching in other parts of the world. Nevertheless a good read and well worth a recommendation for interested students.

Dr Markus Barth
Psychology, FernUniversität in Hagen
March 15, 2011

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ISBN: 9781412958769

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