Article

Family Communication

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Kathleen M. Galvin, Benjamin Chiles and Esther Liu

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online February 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0104
Family Communication

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Communication scholars joined the interdisciplinary conversation on family in the 1980s, springing from the breadth of research on interpersonal and small group communication. Family communication scholars focus on the messages and discourses by which members define, develop, and enact families and on the specific communication processes by which family is performed across different family types and contexts. Although scholars across disciplines may study communication variables relevant to family processes, most are examining communication from a message transmission model with communication as an antecedent variable. Family communication scholars view communication as the primary, constitutive social process by which family relationships are formed and enacted. Central to family communication, scholarship is the recognition that families are discourse dependent, meaning that all families form and negotiate expectations and identities through interaction. From this perspective, all families are discourse dependent. However, families that depart from cultural norms, for example, stepfamilies; gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) families; or multiethnic families, are even more dependent on discourse to define themselves as a family and to legitimate their family form to those outside the family. At its core, family communication scholarship enlightens the discourses and processes by which families talk themselves into being, that is, how families are maintained, changed, and challenged through interaction. Some of the theories used to guide the research are imported from the broader study of interpersonal communication, some from allied disciplines, and some developed within family communication. Although a preponderance of the research has come from the postpositivist paradigm, family communication has been home to interpretive scholarship and, of late, to critical scholars as well.

Article.  13556 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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