complementary relationships

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Interactional partnerships in a dyad based on unequal status or power and employing communication styles that reflect this. One partner is dominant or active and the other is subordinate or passive (Watzlawick stresses that this is not about strength and weakness and no evaluative judgement is implied). Such relationships are often a correlate of the sociocultural context: e.g. parent/child, teacher/student, doctor/patient, or employer/employee, though they can also be idiosyncratic. They are characterized by non-competitive interaction based on maintaining differences. Behaviour is complementary: e.g., one person controls and the other submits. See also power relations; relational communication.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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