asymmetrical relationships

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See also communication network; relational communication; social networks.

1. In communication, unequal status or power relations between participants, whose roles are termed superior (or superordinate) and subordinate. Expectations and behaviour are largely non-reciprocal (in contrast to symmetrical relationships). This may be reflected in the initiation, termination, direction, amount, form, or style of the communication that takes place. For instance, in hospitals, a doctor is more likely to touch a nurse than vice versa (Goffman).

2. More broadly, communicational arrangements on occasions when there is unequal access to information on the part of the sender and the receiver, in which these roles are not reversible, and in which there is no feedback, such as when someone is eavesdropping or spying on another person. See also one-way communication.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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