Explicating Positive Communication within Theories of Family Communication

Authored by: Steven R. Wilson , Elizabeth A. Munz

The Routledge Handbook of Positive Communication

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138633278
eBook ISBN: 9781315207759
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, we compare/contrast multiple family communication theories—those originating within and outside of the communication discipline—in terms of the basic human needs that they highlight, the message processes that are connected to those needs, the ways in which families may facilitate/hinder need satisfaction, and the ways in which families are embedded in larger institutions. For example, Galvin’s (2014) discourse-dependence perspective emphasizes that families are created not just via blood and legal ties but also through discursive practices through which families create a sense of shared family identity among themselves and external audiences. All families are to defined to some extent via discourse, but this is especially true with non-traditional family forms in a society (e.g., stepfamilies, interracial/interethnic families, families with LGBTQ parents). Galvin’s perspective highlight identity (as a sense of belonging as well as communal recognition) as a fundamental human need, illuminates particular discursive practices (e.g., stories, accounts) that facilitate such needs, and highlights how connections between families and larger communities impact positive communication.

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