36G:328 --DUCK

Schedule for Fall 2001

Instructor: Steve Duck, 151-BCSB, 335-0579,

Class Meets: TuTh 2.30-3.45 106 BCSB

Office Hours: TuTh 1.00-2.15, but I am available to members of this class whenever I am in my office, or by special appointment.

The short version of course goals

The full version

The purpose of this course is to survey the area of relational communication at an advanced level appropriate for Graduate Students and to stimulate research in specific projects about relationships. You will be introduced to a range of literature from several disciplines and will be focused on research issues in communication within that literature. The course has the extra pedagogic intention of contributing to your experience and training as students preparing for thesis work and empirical investigation -- whatever sorts of methods you prefer to adopt. It should give you a taste not only of the field itself but also of the issues and obstacles that face a person attempting to conduct empirical work -- and how to overcome them.

Communication researchers have many sides to their work and, in the case of relational communication, this involves training in research that constitutes a productive stream of scholarship running in the tide of predominance of social psychological work in this topic. However, the significance of research on personal relationships to interpersonal communication has reached the stage where it is appropriate to have panels at CSCA (2000) on whether there is any real difference between interpersonal communication and relational communication. Relational Communication is not just about "doing research" on relationships in some narrow sense of recording things that seem to the investigator to be important. It involves much other essential background work. Such activities involve reading (not only in relational communication but also in the other areas that make up the whole field of relationship research), creating bibliographies, keeping up with research reports, learning to use the library skillfully, reviewing literature, commenting on and supporting colleagues' work, doing constructive critical reviews of the work of others, designing research, going to conferences, presenting ideas to colleagues, offering advice on drafts, analyzing problems, writing essays and reports, and, sometimes, organizing panels, workshops or conferences. This course will expose you to some of these facets of Relational Communication as well as to the more traditional "doing research" parts. The course aims to introduce you to the area in all its forms, therefore, both in your reading and in your class experiences.

I believe very strongly that the separation of "theory" and "research" is a bad idea, whether conceptually distinguished or pragmatically distinguished, and that both of them are forms of analytic work. You cannot do research without theory; choice of methods involves (whether implicitly or explicitly) theoretical choices; both involve careful thought about phenomena, terminology, and concepts. Even as you reach for a specific form of questionnaire you are reaching for the theoretical assumptions that go with it. Also inevitably embedded are a few assumptions about the nature of inquiry as a whole and the shape of the specific problem as viewed in that context. Decisions about the pragmatics of tackling a research question involve decisions of analysis of concepts that mean something in a particular theoretical framework. This presupposes the dogged and intelligent teasing apart of possible components and it is very hard to do -- yet it is also something that is rarely trained formally. Yet a true scholar is always concerned to ensure that terms are used precisely and accurately and that their references are carefully delineated, designated, and qualified. Many debates in all fields of communication research occur because opposing camps take different epistemological stances, define terms differently, and use their terms to enclose different phenomena.

In this course we will, in early classes, take problems that have occupied the scholars in this field and we shall analyze them as if we were going to do a study. We shall find that the greatest part of the work of scholarship is this process of analysis before embarking on measurement. We will start with somewhat simple issues from the research field at large, and then go on to more complex questions in relational communication that will entail our getting more familiar with the preceding work of other researchers. You will also be introduced to some basic research techniques in relationship work that could be relevant in planning your own studies. In this way you will be introduced not only to a range of research but also to a way of thinking about it and doing it. The later parts of the course will involve fuller developments of your own thinking about more specialized issues.

Reading materials

Most of the course material is drawn from journal articles or other specific sources and there is no set course text as such. A useful book that will be drawn upon often is the paperback Dindia, K. & Duck, S. W. (2000) Communication and personal relationships. Wiley: Chichester, UK, but it is not a set text as such. I have supplied specific readings for each class plus a list of Additional Readings at the end of this syllabus in case you should wish to go more deeply into a topic. The basic readings may be found in the Resource Room (BCSB 107). The additional suggestions really are, seriously, for you to follow up only as the Spirit moves you and as interest directs. My list provides you with some pointers for further study but it is not exhaustive and it is not expected that you will have read it for class, though of course if you have, then you will be better informed (but also exhausted).

It is extremely unlikely that you will find all of these topics equally appealing. You are encouraged to develop your own perspective on relational theory, on communication, and on the special topics that we shall cover during the course. Use this class as an opportunity not only to become familiar with the issues and debates that are out there but also to adopt or try out a particular approach that you might find useful in the future work that you do for your thesis.

Journals: The major journals here are JSPR (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships), JMF (Journal of Marriage and the Family), J Fam. Comm (Journal of Family Communication) and PR (Personal Relationships). Other journals deal with specific sorts of relationships (Journal of Divorce, Family Relations) or else include relationship work when it is directly applied to some broader principle in a discipline with larger interests (for example Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, Communication Research Reports, or Western Journal of Speech Communication). If you are interested in relational communication then you should routinely scan JSPR and should consider joining INPR (International Network on Personal Relationships) through which you get a reduced rate of membership as graduate students, and JSPR is included in the membership price, also at discounted rates. Contact for information.



I try to arrange the course assignments so that you do not get stuck with a huge requirement at the end of semester, along with all the other things that you have to produce for other courses. Thus the structure of assignments here is progressive. You should be able to build on the work that you do early in the course and accumulate it into the final product for assessment, having already had periodic feedback from me, and finally from the rest of the class after your class presentation, on the project as it develops.

Class participation is essential and should be based on your reading of the materials. Come to each class with something to raise for discussion and to engage the other students as well as the instructor. In particular, be ready to deal with the suggestions for "thought assignments" provided for each class to help you approach the reading. There will also be a short (1-2 page) regular note assignment for each class. Come to class with these notes typed up. I will collect them in each class and return them with comments by the next class period. The purpose of these notes is to help you structure and organize your approach to the reading. I do not want mere summaries of what you have read but I am looking for some organized digestion of the reading and your personal thoughts about it.

The major assignment that we are working towards is a paper on a specific topic of your choice (see end of this document for some ideas). [Pick something that interests you: Duckís Fourth Maxim is that an ounce of interest is worth more than two pounds of effort]. En route to that final major assignment paper, you will:

1) do a review of literature and construct an annotated bibliography dealing with the main points of the literature on the topic (early to middle part of semester);

2) do a presentation to the rest of the class. This will be based on your annotated bibliography and will review and evaluate your personally chosen topic, incorporating an idea for possible further exploration (middle to late part of semester);

3) do a "pull-it-all-together" final paper (for the last day of semester) that blends these previous two assignments together and designs -- "as if" for future study Ė a proposal for empirical work. You might perhaps go on to carry out a version of the proposal in a later semester for Independent Study or you might just prepare for this class as useful experience or you could even eventually make it into something you could work on for conferences (and your vita) or for your dissertation.

Policy on deadlines and due dates: Deadlines are meaningful and I have planned my own timetable for the semester around expectations of receiving things from you when they are due. Plan ahead. Things will go wrong this semester from time to time and the unexpected always occurs. Plan ahead and allow time for delays, burst pipes, broken printers, lost pets, crashed computers, and other possible events that might become unavailing excuses. If you miss deadlines then you will get a failing grade. I do not give Incompletes.



Tuesday August 28th Course introduction

This will be the first meeting of the class and we will discourse freely on the general objectives and style of the course, methods of attacking the research issues, requirements for reading, and such. Preferably before this meeting but at least very soon after it, have a look through the methodology section of the Handbook of Personal Relationships FIRST EDITION, especially the Ickes & Tooke chapter and the Harvey et al chapter, and the Ickes chapter in Ickes & Duck (2000) just to get acquainted with some of what is there, for future reference. These readings are listed fully in the Additional Reading section at the end of this screed. No-one will test you on this, but it is Good For You.

Thursday August 30th: The study of relationships and relationship communication as a moral enterprise

Study of relationships typically involves the assumption that there are "better" and "worse" or "competent" and "incompetent" ways of relating. People also have a sense that relationships can be "inappropriate". Magazine racks are full of advice that tells us how to "improve" relationships or suggest ways in which to "get the love we want", whereas morning TV shows offer us morally compelling instances of faulty relational behavior for audiences to scream at. Viewed from a critical perspective, any notion that there can be "quality" in relationships or "faulty" or "bad" relational behavior assumes a preferred vantage-point for determining what is "quality"/"good"/"appropriate"? Who decides? Has the judgment of relationship quality always been the same or does it change (over historical periods or over relationship growth)? Do different cultures think of relationship "quality" in different terms? How does the student of relationships get involved in larger social questions about the form of relationships that is possible/desirable/appropriate? Think about these issues and we'll debate them in class.

Reading: Montgomery, B. M. (1988). Quality Communication in Personal Relationships. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships (pp. 343-362). Chichester: Wiley; S. W. Duck & L. A. VanderVoort (in press) Scarlet letters and whited sepulchres: the social marking of relationships as "inappropriate", In R. Goodwin & D. Cramer [Eds.] Inappropriate Relationships Erlbaum: Mahwah NJ (Manuscript available to class); Oswald, R. F. (2000). A member of the wedding? Heterosexism and family ritual. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(3), 349-368.

Supplementary readings [if you want to follow up, then choose at will]: S. W. Duck (Relating to Others, second edition, 1999) chapter 1 especially the discussion of Kidd etc. (pp. 17-18). See also the Additional Readings at the end of the syllabus, esp. Prusank et al 1993, Duran et al 1997 on the changing types of cultural (moral) advice on (successful conduct of) relationships provided by popular menís and womenís magazines; Contarello & Volpato 1991 (looks at literary depictions of friendship since 1100 AD)

Come to class with: one or two pages of comment on the reading, especially your thoughts about this issue of quality and appropriateness. Can you see any problems with the arguments in the readings? Is "quality" an issue we can ever avoid using here? Does "relationship enhancement" commit people to particular dogmas? What factors guide us in the decisions about whether a relationship is "good" or "bad"? Can we never escape using terms like "relationship success/failure" or there something logically tainted about those who say that we must strive for neutrality here? Why are divorces "failed relationships" .... or arenít they?

Tuesday September 4th: Basic initial attraction and basic similarity

The first sorts of studies that shaped the beginnings of this field of scholarship were the studies of initial attraction. There were many different styles of work into this and only some had a communication "spin" to it (Van Lear & Trujillo, 1986). The predominant work was social psychological and it is useful to begin with it, in order to see how later work has grown away from it in substance and style. As you read about this social psychological work, you could think about it from the standpoint of the previous week's reading. What assumptions about attraction are built into the study of attraction in this way?

From the earliest times it has been thought likely that similarity (of what?) is related to liking. Aristotle thought it, Cicero thought it, and several rhetoricians recommended the claim of similarity to an audience as a persuasive device ("My fellow Americans..."), though no rhetorical theory that I know makes the next leap and suggests that relationships per se are persuasive (but cf. the concept of Ethos and its implications). Cicero, for example, who also wrote about friendship, wrote quite a lot about the inherent power of similarity to persuade. There have been huge amounts of work on this topic in the social sciences, most of it somewhat confused. We are dealing here with a definitional problem, in some respects, and part of the problem is to decide the answer to the question in the above bracket "(of what?)". Consider two major issues: Why would any sort of similarity be important in relationships? What is the role (or, more likely, what are the roles) of similarity in communication and vice versa? How could relationships be persuasive? Are there rhetorics of relationships that are based on similarity?

Reading: Byrne, D. (1997). An Overview (And Underview) Of Research And Theory Within The Attraction Paradigm. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 417-431; Monsour, M. (1994). Similarities and dissimilarities in personal relationships: constructing meaning and building intimacy through communication. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Understanding relationship processes 4: Dynamics of interactions (pp. 112-134). Newbury Park: SAGE. If you want to follow this up then try Communication Monographs Chautauqua on Similarity, 1992; Acitelli et al (1993); Burleson & Denton (1992); VanderVoort & Duck (2000), or Duck (1999) Chapter Two of Relating to Others, all listed fully in the Additional Readings section.

Come to class with: Brief notes about the ways in which a communication scholar could get interested in initial attraction as distinct from the development of relationships. How would we apply communication theory to initial attraction? How does communication work in the setting up of second dates after first dates? What situations could we use for answering these questions or testing these ideas? Also give some thought to the issue of what it is that people learn from initial attraction and what is being communicated in the initial stages of such interactions.

Thursday Sept 6th and Tuesday Sept 11th No Class Meetings: Reading Only

Use these class times not only to do the reading assigned below but also to make the first stretch towards your choice of a topic for the later main class assignment.

Thursday 6th Sept: Some armchair essentials about relationships

This is an easy one: What is a relationship? Well, maybe not so easy, but we all know what relationships are anyway, don't we? Before you do any reading, write down a few features of relationships that you regard as essential before something counts as a relationship. How do we differentiate a relationship from a series of interactions? Or is that too simple? What about inter-racial relationships?

Reading: Hinde, R. A. (1981). `The bases of a science of interpersonal relationships'. In S. W. Duck & R. Gilmour (Eds.), Personal Relationships 1: Studying Personal Relationships (pp. 1-22). London, New York, San Francisco: Academic Press. For follow up see Additional Readings: Gaines and Ickes (2000); Bradshaw (JSPR 1998), and Flora & Segrin (JSPR 1998) for some subtleties here. Do you think that face-to-face interaction is crucial to relationships?

Prepare for next weekís class by writing down: some thoughts about Hinde's approach. How good an idea is it? What is missing if anything? Is the behavioral approach satisfactory? How could we develop it by communication research? What about the role of talk in relating? Does the approach describe everyday lives or is it too abstracted? Does it overemphasize face to face relationships? Do we perhaps do a lot of relating in our heads? Could our relationship with someone who is now dead actually change (improve, deteriorate...?) after their death?

Tuesday September 11th: Sex and gender in relationships

If you commented in the reading for last Thursday that roles are major elements of relating then well done. Sex and gender are ever present influences on the structure and conduct of relationships and discussion of this topic follows from the previous discussions in some important ways. To what extent do the prescriptions of gender roles influence relationships and what sort of features of relationships would you "expect" to find in each case? How would all this affect relationships between the sexes and within the sexes?

Reading: Hendrick, C. (1988). Roles and Gender in Relationships. Handbook of Personal Relationships. [FIRST EDITION] S. W. Duck. Chichester, UK, Wiley: 429-447; Wood, J. T. (1995). "Feminist scholarship and the study of relationships." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 12: 103-120. For follow-up: Canary & Emmers-Sommer (1997); Buss & Dedden (1990) in the Additional Reading list

Prepare for next class with: one or two pages of comments on the Hendrick reading and the Wood paper and the issues you see here. What do you make of Hendrick's argument about the nature of roles and gender? How could this be tackled from a communication perspective? How do you evaluate Wood's ideas about the ways in which roles and gender contribute to interaction in relationships? Can different-sex persons ever really be friends?

Thursday September 13th Gender and sex roles

In this class, we will consider what you have made of the readings in the previous week and we will discuss your written preps for those classes. During this week come to see me if you are having trouble picking a topic for your major assignment.

Tuesday September 18th: Where are relationships I? In the head [Schemata, stories, plans, and chaos]

After looking at patterns of interaction and some influences of roles upon the ways they are performed, we perhaps need to break down the concepts and elements of relationships a bit into components to find out where the different bits join up. We'll start with the individual elements of relationships, the individual minds that come to the relationship, not because that is all there is, but because that is a place to start.

Reading: Andersen, P. A. (1993). Cognitive schemata in personal relationships. Individuals in relationships [Understanding relationship processes 1]. S. W. Duck. Newbury Park, SAGE: 1-29; Bochner, A. P., C. Ellis, et al. (2000). Relationships as stories: Accounts, storied lives, evocative narratives. Communication and personal relationships. K. Dindia and S. W. Duck. Chichester, Wiley: 13-30; Weigel, D. & Murray, C. (2000) The paradox of stability and change in relationships: What does chaos theory offer for the study of romantic relationships? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 425-449.

Come to class with: some notes on the notion of a schema. Is the notion adequate? What is it good for? What does it omit? What parts of the whole story, as you see it, does it underestimate? How does it compare with Hinde's approach? Which matters more, one person's schema or two persons' schemata about the relationship? If relationships are organized in the mind, what is it that does the organizing, individuals, dyads, cultures .... or what? Are people organized plan-makers in relationships? To what extent do people plan their communication in relationships to, for instance, reduce uncertainty, or achieve goals such as affinity seeking or affinity testing? Do we use scripts for relationships or relationship situations like dating?

Thursday September 20th: Where are relationships II? In language [Metaphors and other linguistic concepts of relationships]

Researchers tend to adopt metaphors for studying and explaining the phenomena that they study. We have already come across some of these in the research you have now read, but we have not dwelt on the implications that they carry about the ways in which the phenomena operate. Metaphors communicate messages about the kind of relationship that we feel we are "in". Metaphors about the state of a relationship often are the frame for our accounts of their development and decline (I felt trapped, in a cage, chained down, imprisoned, stifled.... I'm stuck on you, hungry for love, burning with passion, sugar, honey, sweetie, angel....we weren't going anywhere, the relationship was in a rut, stuck in the same old groove). Think a little about the ways in which: 1) metaphors guide us in expressing our feelings for a partner (and how we would study this as communication researchers); 2) metaphors "control" or at least guide and shape the ways we think about a research problem.

Reading: Kovecses, Z. (1991). "A linguist's quest for love." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 8: 77-98.; Duck, S. W. (1984). "A rose is a rose (is a tadpole is a freeway is a film) is a rose." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 1: 507-510; Duck, S. W. (1987). Adding apples and oranges: Investigators' implicit theories about relationships. Accounting for Relationships. R. Burnett, D. McPhee and D. D. Clarke. London, Methuen: 215-224; Flora, J. & Segrin, C. (2000) Relationship development in dating couples: Implications for relational satisfaction and loneliness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 811-825. For follow up read some material on "Turning Points" for example the Baxter & Bullis paper in the Additional Reading.

Come to class with: some thoughts about why metaphors matter. What do they convey? What is their significance in everyday relating? What is their importance in the research enterprise? How, in the everyday conduct of communication, could they be connected to similarity and the things that we covered earlier? How might metaphors influence researchers' agenda? Why do people often complain that their relationship "is not going anywhere"?

Tuesday September 25th: Where are Relationships III? The case of cross-sex friendship: A contradiction in terms or an ideological practice (or both)?

In our culture the recent growth in the number of cross-sex friendship is apparently greeted with suspicion and there are many cultural and network forces that make people see the formation of such cross-sex friendship as essentially suspicious or as "cover-up" for a clandestine sexual relationship. Alternatively (or as well) observers sometimes see such friendships as "failed" romances or as "less than" romances. What is going on here in the representation of such relationships in those ways? What communicative practices are used to either undercut or sustain such views?

Reading: Werking, K. J. (2000). Cross sex friendship research as ideological practice. Communication and personal relationships. K. Dindia and S. W. Duck. Chichester, Wiley: 113-130; . Berger, H. A., L. S. Shaffer, et al. (1998). "Friends and lovers." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 15(5): 623-636.

Follow up with the Werking (1997) book listed in Additional Readings if you get hooked.

Come to class with: some ideas about the social forces at work here and the ways in which they might operate communicatively.

Thursday September 27th: Where are relationships IV? Praxis and dialectical concepts of relationships

Some people have pointed out that the linear models of relationship growth are unidimensional, when experience is in fact more complex. In developing relationships we actually have to balance out certain competing needs (e.g., for privacy and independence as opposed to the needs for openness, intimacy and connectedness). Such writers talk of dialectics, a term that is much bandied about and much misunderstood. What is this notion of dialectics telling us? How does a communication researcher study the activation of dialectics? Is the concept of communicational dialectics a useful one or is it incapable of study? If it can be studied, how might it be studied? What methods and designs would be appropriate?

Reading: Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M. (2000). Rethinking communication in personal relationships from a dialectical perspective. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 31-54). Chichester: Wiley). Baxter, L. A., Dun, T. D., & Sahlstein, E. M. (2001) Rules for relating communicated among social network members. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 18, 173-200. Fuller follow up can be found in Baxter & Montgomery (1996). You could also recheck the Hinde 1981 chapter we read before and look at how he uses the term dialectics.

Come to class with: some thoughts about the issue of dialectics. Can you distinguish a dialectic and a dichotomy? Think how dialogue fits in with this concept and how we might describe dialectics that occur in everyday life. Where do they surface? Come with some specific examples to share.

Tuesday October 2nd: Where are relationships V? Social contexts for interaction: Networks as communicational realities

Following on from one of last timeís readings, we move outwards. So far, we have looked at relationships as things in themselves, only occasionally noting that they occur in a social context that shapes their form and nature in important ways. Such social forces are not simply abstractions but are realities that people butt up against in everyday life as we interact with other people in the networks to which we belong. How do such experiences influence our relationships? Can they affect even the choice of others with whom we create relationships? How do others' expectations or reactions affect the form in which relationships are conducted? If you think they do not, then speak to someone who has had an affair, or to a gay couple.

Reading Parks, M. (2000). Communication networks and relationship life cycles. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 55-76). Chichester: Wiley.); Huston, M., & Schwartz, P. (1995). Lesbian and Gay male Relationships. In J. T. Wood & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Under-studied relationships: Off the beaten track [Understanding relationship processes 6] (pp. 89-121). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. For follow up try Klein & Milardo (1993); Allan (1998); Baxter & Widenmann (1993) or Klein & Johnson (1997) in the Additional Reading list, and work on gossip (such as Bergmann, 1993, Discreet indiscretions. Aldine de Gruyter.)

Come to class with: some examples (other than Romeo and Juliet) of the force of outside opinion as a factor in relationships. How might we study the impact of outsiders on the conduct of relationships? Can you think of other ways in which we could explore communication in a network as a signal about a target relationship in which we had a research interest? Try to think up a study of third party communication. Also think about the force of economic circumstances in relationships: If one has enough money to provide a good meal and if one is proud of one's home then one might invite friends to one's house (and expect them to invite one back -- which presumes they have the money and the pride too); if one has no money or a poor home, one may choose to meet friends on neutral ground like a bar, for instance, where "exchanges" are limited in cost. Think about the ways in which economic and material circumstances feed into the expression and conduct of relationships.

Thursday October 4th: Where are relationships VI? Relationship practices of faces and facework

If we are dealing with networks as well as partners, then what is at stake? We need to be more attentive to the performances of social identity that affect the ways in which interactions are done. Weíll attend here to the influences upon interaction patterns that stem from awareness of self as a social performer, whether this be in the sense of "identity management" and "self presentation" or in the sense of "self awareness" and "self consciousness". Think also about the ways in which patterns of interaction night be affected by the knowledge that oneís relationship is stigmatized somehow in the culture or is "counternormative" in some way.

Reading: Metts, S. (2000). Face and facework: Implications for the study of personal relationships. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 72-94). Chichester: Wiley; Wood, J. T. (2001). The normalization of violence in heterosexual romantic relationships: Women's narratives of love and violence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 18, 239-262.

Come to class with: some thoughts on the social contexts in which (and in what sense is that "in which" to be understood?) people conduct their relationships. How are we influenced by personal style, social convention and awareness of social context?

Tuesday October 9th: Communication and relationships I: Compliance-gaining or Burkean persuasion?

Given the centrality of scholarship about compliance gaining in communication theory how can we incorporate it into the research discourse about relationships? Is it valuable to see, for example, relationship development and relationship decline as persuasive tasks? Is it "persuasion" or "compliance gaining" to ask someone out on a date or to increment the level of a relationship? Next, try to relate this course to anything you know about Burke, persuasion, rhetoric, dramaturgy. Can we get a bit further by thinking of relationship activity as a persuasive action involving the creation of identification and consubstantiality? Recall the discussions of similarity in earlier classes. How can we tie them in?

Reading: Miller, G. R., & Boster, F. J. (1988). Persuasion in personal relationships. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationship . Chichester, UK: Wiley. Dixson, M. D., & Duck, S. W. (1993). Understanding relationship processes: Uncovering the human search for meaning. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Individuals in relationships [Understanding relationship processes 1] (pp. 175-206). Newbury Park: SAGE. Duck, S. W., & Pond, K. (1989). Friends, Romans, Countrymen; lend me your retrospective data: Rhetoric and reality in personal relationships. In C. Hendrick (Ed.), Close relationships (Vol. 10, pp. 17-38). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Come to class with: some evaluation of this perspective on relationships. Is it helpful? In what ways could we usefully see relationship dynamics in terms of "persuasion"? What sort of "persuasion" do we mean? Present a critical approach to the reading as a starter and think about how this work could be developed. Relate this (mentally) to the earlier work on metaphor.

Thursday October 11th: Communication in relationships II: Persons talking to others about themselves (Self-disclosure)

Some people, especially in social psychology, think of "communication" as merely "expressivity", when a person exposes information about himself or herself that is private and intimate. On this view a conversation is intimate if it contains secret or private information, and the intimacy of the interaction is largely determined by one person's decision to speak frankly. Of course much research also looked at the reciprocity evoked by such splurges of emotion and it has always been assumed that interactions tend to be balanced in the sense that a person will reciprocate information of about equal intimacy to that revealed by a partner. There are of course findings that women self disclose more than men etc. etc. But perhaps the more interesting questions are framed in a context where self-disclosure is thought of as communication in the sense in which "Communication Studies" thinks of "communication" rather than the way that psychology thinks of it, as above.

Reading: Spencer, E. E. (1994). Transforming relationships through ordinary talk. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Understanding relationship processes 4: Dynamics of relationships, (pp. 58-85). Newbury Park.: SAGE. Dindia, K. (2000). Self-disclosure, Identity, and Relationship Development: A Dialectical Perspective. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 147-162). Chichester: Wiley; Banks, S. P., Louie, E., & Einerson, M. (2000). Constructing personal identities in holiday letters. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 299-328.

Come to class with: Things to disclose about your reactions to the reading.

Tuesday October 16th: Communication in relationships III: Relationship Awareness and talking about relationships

The last class looked at how people talk to one another in special circumstances. What about the fact that relationship partners might talk about the relationship itself? A recent development has been the study of Relationship Awareness or the ways in which partners think about interaction patterns, comparison and contrasts with one another. Such awareness leads to, or is a part of, the talking about relationships that people carry out. Does this mean that outsiders can tell the nature of a relationship from the terms and concepts assumed within the discourse?

Reading: Acitelli, L. K. (1988). When spouses talk to each other about their relationship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 5, 185-199. Acitelli, L. K., Duck, S. W., & West, L. (2000). Embracing the social in personal relationships and research. In W. Ickes & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Social psychology and personal relationships (pp. 215-227). Chichester: Wiley. Planalp, S., & Garvin-Doxas, K. (1994). Using mutual knowledge in conversation: Friends as experts in each other. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Dynamics of relationships [Understanding relationship processes 4] (pp. 1-26). Newbury Park: SAGE.

Come to class with: some thoughts on how to develop this line of research. Let's consider a fairly basic question and then put some more meat on it. Can an audience distinguish the conversations of friends from those of strangers? If so how do they do it? If they can, then what does that tell us about the nature of conversation in friendships and about the nature of relationships in general?

Thursday October 18th:

There will be no class meeting this week so that you can develop and finish off your Annotated Bibliography assignment. Bibliography Assignments are due at the start of class Tues. October 23rd

Tuesday October 23rd Communication in Relationships IV: Relationships over email and Long Distance Relationships

These days a lot of (well-off, well-educated) people have access to email and the information superhighway. A phenomenal growth has since occurred in relationships over email where people correspond in intimate ways yet may not meet very often, if ever at all. Such relationships challenge the theorist to explain how such interactions constitute "relationships", especially for those theorists who see "interaction" as the basis of relationships. How are such long-distance relationships encompassed by theories based on face to face interaction and exchanges?

Reading: Lea, M., & Spears, R. (1995). Love at first byte: Relationships conducted over electronic systems. In J. T. Wood & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Under-studied relationships: Off the beaten track [Understanding relationship processes: Vol. 6]. . Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications; Parks, M. R., & Roberts, L. D. (1998). "Making MOOsic": The development of personal relationships on-line and a comparison of their off-line counterparts. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 517-537; Rohlfing, M. (1995). "Doesnít anybody stay in one place any more?" An exploration of the understudied phenomenon of long-distance relationships. In J. T. Wood & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Under-studied relationships: Off the beaten track [Understanding relationship processes: Vol. 6] (pp. 173-196). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Duck, S. W. (2000). Oh give me a phone where the charges don't roam but my peers and relating hopes stray: Cell phones as relationship devices. Paper presented at the National Communication Association, Seattle, WA.

Come to class with: thoughts on the nature of relationships as well as some indications of the merits and disadvantages of email relationships. How are they different from pen-pal relationships or long distance relationships conducted over the telephone?


Thursday October 25th: Communication in relationships V: Relationship management and maintenance

Researchers tend to think of relationship development and decline as good examples of what occurs in relationships and places where we need to attend particularly to changes in communication patterns and style. Recently it has been suggested that maintenance or management of relationships requires work by partners also and that this work is probably done through communicative means. There have recently been considerable discussion and controversy about the nature of maintenance of relationships, the extent to which it is a conscious activity and the extent to which it is routine.

Reading: Dindia, K., & Baxter, L. A. (1987). Strategies for maintaining and repairing marital relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4, 143-158; the special issue of JSPR on this in May 1993; Duck, S. W. (1994). Steady as (s)he goes: relational maintenance as a shared meaning system. In D. J. Canary & L. Stafford (Eds.), Communication and relationship maintenance (pp. 45-60). New York: Academic Press; Dainton, M. (2000) Maintenance behaviors, expectations for maintenance, and satisfaction: Linking comparison levels to relational maintenance strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17, 827-842.

Come to class with: some ideas about the nature of maintenance and the role of communication in it. This is a hot topic and one in which interest is growing. How could we make a useful contribution to its development?

Tuesday October 30th: Developmental work for class assignment

The class will not meet as such, but you should develop your research for the final assignment

Thursday 1st November NCA in Atlanta. Class will be Held in the Marriott.

Tuesday November 6th: Communication in relationships VI: Everyday talk, memory, and process models of relating

Communication scholars seeking to understand relationships might well decide that everyday talk has some role in the initiation, development, maintenance and decline of relationships (in fact in every facet of relationshipping), since it seems on the face of it to be important in human interaction as a whole. Little work has been done to test this idea, however, but we shall come across some work that has been done.

Reading: Duck, S. W., Rutt, D. J., Hurst, M., & Strejc, H. (1991). Some evident truths about conversations in everyday relationships: All communication is not created equal. Human Communication Research, 18, 228-267; Duck, S. W. (1990). Relationships as unfinished business: Out of the frying pan and into the 1990s. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7, 5-29. For follow up read Billig (1987) Arguing and thinking: A rhetorical approach to social psychology. Cambridge University Press.

Come to class with: some reflections on the following. We will have talked a little about relationships as processes. What do we mean by it? Process models have recently become fashionable, but what is "a process" and how do we relate "process" to "communication" in this context?

Thursday November 8th: Consultations on presentations

Make individual appointments to see me about your proposed final paper and presentation to the class

Tuesday November 13th: The dark side of relationships

We have covered a lot of sickly sweet stuff about how wonderful relationships are, but they also have another side to them. They are sources of some of the greatest pain and suffering, can be abusive, demeaning, threatening, disappointing, and stressful. Not only that but there is a subtler set of points about them: they are forged in some ways from a managed balance of negative and positive elements. All relationships have hassles to them and we normally tolerate them in order to get the good stuff, but all the same we do have to manage the bad things too. In addition, the skillful conduct of relationships is sometimes carried out through doing things that are "bad". For example, deception is generally bad but can also be tactful or a way of delightfully surprising someone; sometimes it is tactful to forget or polite to ignore something. So competent relating involves "incompetence" sometimes.

Reading: Cupach, W. R., Spitzberg, B. H., & Carson, C. L. (2001). Toward a theory of obsessive relational intrusion and stalking. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Communication and Personal Relationships (pp. 131-146). Chichester: Wiley; Spitzberg, B. H. (1993). The dialectics of (in)competence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 137-158.; Duck, S. W. (1994-b). Stratagems, spoils and a serpent's tooth: On the delights and dilemmas of personal relationships. In W. R. Cupach & B. H. Spitzberg (Eds.), The dark side of interpersonal communication (pp. 3-24). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA. Wiseman, J. P., & Duck, S. W. (1995). Having and managing enemies: A very challenging relationship. In S. W. Duck & J. T. Wood (Eds.), Confronting Relationship Challenges [Understanding Relationship Processes 5], (pp. 43-72.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Come to class with a balanced approach to life.


Thursday November 15th: The ending of relationships

We cannot really end without some discussion of endings. Also, give some thought to what happens after the ending.

Reading: Duck, S. W. (1982). A topography of relationship disengagement and dissolution. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Personal relationships 4: Dissolving personal relationships (pp. 1-30). London: Academic Press. Frazier, P. A., & Cook, S. W. (1993). Correlates of distress following heterosexual relationship dissolution. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 55-67; Schneider, C. S., & Kenny, D. A. (2000). Cross-sex friends who were once romantic partners: are they platonic friends now? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(3), 451-466.

Come to class with: some ideas on how to develop this work.


For these classes, each of you will present your review of your chosen area. Instead of general class discussion on the topics that you have all read and written notes about, one person will come to the class prepared to lead the discussion by presenting a brief survey of a topic and an evaluation of the literature. The rest of you will be expected to have read the lead article and to come with the usual one or two pages of notes about it, but you are not required to have read as much on the topic as usual .... partly because you will undoubtedly be working on your own detailed presentation to the class. The schedule for doing this will be worked out in an early class and you are responsible for doing the work and being prepared to present it at the due time as well as doing it early enough to get the necessary report to other classmates one week ahead of the presentation.

The leader's assignment here is to write a review of the chosen topic and the annotated bibliography that you have already prepared on it in October. Give a short (2-page) positional review of the literature before 1998 and then find all of the articles covering this topic from 1998 to the present and do a full review piece on them ("all" can mean "no more than 15" if you hit a big topic]. Organize the report into a coherent pattern, reviewing what has happened in this area in the past three years. End with a critique of the area and ideas for future research. Include a reference section so that we can all benefit from your review. Be prepared to lead a discussion of the reviewed area and ensure that we all receive your written report the week before we all are due to discuss it.

The final written report, due on December 14th, need not be the same as the report presented in class, because you may want to include suggestions made after the presentation in class. You should not have to tear the whole thing up after the presentation but you might want to do some final polishing before submission. You do not have to wait until December 14th to hand in the final report after you have presented it in class.

The final assignment (brief research proposal, based on but different from your topic review as presented in class) is due in by 5.00 on December 14th.



[This list is not exhaustive and you are free to choose something that is not on here, if you prefer]

Advice giving

You will be something of a pioneer if you tackle this, but you might want to start with the work on social support and look at it from a different angle. How do people give and receive and ask for advice from friends? I have no advice about the place to start for reviewing this and if you choose the topic we will have to work out what the rest of the class should read to prepare for your presentation, but if I am right about it having been neglected, then this would be a good topic through which to establish a new line of research.

Children's communication in friendship

Too much here to give a useful guide on. If you have a specific aspect of children's communication that you want to work on, then see me.


This topic has been well worked by Burleson. You could find a starting reading on this by looking him up in SSCI.

Commitment and change in commitment

Although this is a central concept in much work on relationships it turns out to have been rather poorly conceived as a term and its communication consequents are not entirely clear. How do people indicate and communicate commitment? Is it always obvious and explicit or sometimes buried in the subtext of their conversations? How?


Few relationships escape conflict in one form or another and there has been a certain amount of research devoted to the analysis of conflict, usually in marriages or relationships that are heading toward marriage. Of course it occurs in other relationships, but these relationships do not get so much attention in this respect.

Dating (Communication tactics on dates, for example)

There is plenty of work on the initiation of dates, some of it recently on the female initiation of heterosexual dates. But there is not much on the conduct of dates nor on the ways in which people create transitions from a first date to a second (Consolidation of dates - Sprecher & Duck, Pers & Soc. Psych Bull 1993). Although there is some interest in the topic in itself, there is a much larger question lying behind it: "What changes take place in communication that restructure the nature of a relationship?"

Day to day communication in relationships

See the course schedule


Deception in relationships has been studied less than you might think. Most studies look at deception between strangers, yet deception in longer term relationships is fairly common and quite complex (ranging from outright betrayal to birthday surprises).

ICR [Iowa Communication Record]

This will have come up in discussion and has many uses yet to be developed. It could be combined with other topics. Start with Dainton (1998 Comm. Reports)


The nature of intimacy has proved to be quite elusive. There are some who think it is a personality characteristic of individuals, some who feel it is a property of relationships, some of interactions, and some of talk.


In some countries you can be excused for crimes of passion, for example those instigated by jealousy. What is jealousy and how is it communicated? More interesting (I think) how does it affect other communications (i.e., those that are not just of the jealousy)?

Keeping people at a distance

See "Privacy", below. How do we keep people at armís length or prevent their attempts to develop greater intimacy in relationships?

Listening to the distressed communicator

Much of our discussion has been on the active work of communicating with another person through speech, but much that is important to communication occurs in listening and the processing of what is heard. Consider the nature of listening and processing of information. How might the skills of a listener be indicated or important in relationships?

Loneliness and communication competence

Loneliness is another topic that has experienced recent rapid expansion and again most work is social psychological, but has an unknowing communication twist to it, in that much recent work has shown that lonely people have communication deficits.

Love ways: Communication, Love styles, and deep emotion

Love has recently become a fashionable topic in the relationship area, but communication researchers have not done much on this topic directly. What can scholars of communication tell us about love?


See the course schedule, but there is much more on the role of networks than we covered there.

Peer relationships in children

There is a lot of work in developmental psychology on the types of children who get rejected at school, but there is plenty of room for communication work on the ways in which it occurs and the sorts of messages that get used, the communicative style of rejected kids, and so on.

Physical attractiveness

Physical Attractiveness (PA) was first explored in terms of the shapes and physiques and physical features that are attractive. Of course, people rapidly recognized that such judgments are both personal and embedded in a culture, but the search persists. A different line was to see PA in terms of exchange theory: thus PA people bring to relationships the "commodity" of Attractiveness and others essentially "buy" it by offering something else in exchange (Seriously! Such work usually explores Personal Ads, a handy source of unobtrusive data). A third way to look at it is to see PA as a communication not only of such things as social value but also as an indication of deeper and more important qualities, such as personality. A series of studies showed that PA people were judged to have more interesting personalities, for example. Do some reading and thinking about this and see if you can extend your ideas here to give a better communicative interpretation of what PA may be doing.


Relationships involve a complex dialectic of privacy and openness and most relationship partners have to sort out the way in which they will handle the intrusions on privacy that a relationship naturally creates for people. What is involved in the communicative study of privacy and privacy regulation? What does the privacy problem mean for people in developing relationships?

Relational competence in children

Society spends a lot of time training children to read and write but relatively little on the relationship skills that people need as adults (and as children). Research confirms that children who are rejected at school are more likely than others to turn into society's problems (e.g., depressives, felons, unemployed, alcoholics, etc.). What do we know about relational competence in children and where and how do they learn it?

Relationships between people at work

Most people spend much of their lives in a work-place and develop relationship with the people there. How are the communications of colleagues different from or similar to those of other relaters and does the quality of their communication have any similarities to the communication of successful partners in other settings?

Self disclosure

Self-disclosure has been a hot topic for quite a while. Think about its impact on relationships. When people confide their secrets and trust in us then it feels good and we tend to like them.... most of the time. You might ask yourself how often self disclosure occurs, though, in everyday life. How do we know what is self-disclosing and what is not? Can we tell without already knowing the person who is doing the disclosing?

Start of relationships (consolidation after the first meeting)

See the notes on "Dating", above

Stories/Couple stories of their relationship

Teasing as facework

Trajectories of relationships (and relationships that do not "traject" beyond non-intimacy)

See the paper by Delia on the course schedule. Most relationships do not set on an ever-upward path towards intimacy. How do the communications of most of these relationships convey, limit, or create such ceilings to intimacy?

You may also choose to elaborate on any of the topics that are already on the course schedule list, of course.


There is so much to read and enjoy in this field that a 16-week syllabus cannot do it justice. The below suggestions for additional reading are offered as guides for topics covered in the syllabus for those people who wish to follow them up in more depth, either now or later in your time here. For further materials see me, consult recent journals, explore SSCI using these as source tracers, or examine bibliographies in other books. Always feel free to come and see me for additional suggestions now or in the future.

Acitelli, L. K., Douvan, E., & Veroff, J. (1993). Perceptions of conflict in the first year of marriage: How important are similarity and understanding? Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 5-19.

Allan, G. A. (1998). Friendship, sociology and social structure. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 685-702.

Andersen, P. A. (1993). Cognitive schemata in personal relationships. Individuals in relationships [Understanding relationship processes 1]. S. W. Duck. Newbury Park, SAGE: 1-29.

Baxter, L. A., & Bullis, C. (1986). Turning points in developing romantic relationships. Human Communication Research, 12, 469-493.

Baxter, L. A., & Montgomery, B. M. (1996). Relating: Dialogs and dialectics. New York: Guilford Press.

Baxter, L. A., & Widenmann, S. (1993). Revealing and not revealing the status of romantic relationships to social networks. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 321-338.

Berger, C. R. (1993). Goals, plans and mutual understanding in personal relationships. Individuals in relationships [Understanding relationship processes 1]. S. W. Duck. Newbury Park, SAGE: 30-59.

Bergmann, J. R. (1993). Discreet indiscretions: The social organization of gossip. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Billig, M. (1987). Arguing and Thinking: A rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Bochner, A. P., et al. (2000). Relationships as stories: Accounts, storied lives, evocative narratives. Communication and personal relationships. K. Dindia and S. W. Duck. Chichester, Wiley: 13-30.

Bradshaw, S. D. (1998). "Iíll go if you will: Do shy persons utilize social surrogates?" Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 15: 651-669.

Burleson, B. R., & Denton, W. H. (1992). A new look at similarity and attraction in marriage: Similarities in social-cognitive and communication skills as predictors of attraction and satisfaction. Communication Monographs, 59, 268-287.

Buss, D. M. and L. A. Dedden (1990). "Derogation of competitors." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 7: 395-422.

Byrne, D. (1997). An Overview (And Underview) Of Research And Theory Within The Attraction Paradigm. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 417-431.

Canary, D. J. and T. Emmers-Sommer (1997). Sex and gender differences in personal relationships. New York, Guilford.

Communication Monographs Chautauqua on Similarity, 1992

Contarello, A., & Volpato, C. (1991). Images of friendship: literary depictions through the ages. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 8, 49-75.

Duck S. W. & Wood, J. T. (1995) Confronting relationship challenges [Understanding Relationship Processes 5] Thousand Oaks: SAGE. HM132.U56

Duck, S. W. (1984). "A rose is a rose (is a tadpole is a freeway is a film) is a rose." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 1: 507-510.

Duck, S. W. (1987). Adding apples and oranges: Investigators' implicit theories about relationships. Accounting for Relationships. R. Burnett, D. McPhee and D. D. Clarke. London, Methuen: 215-224.

Duck, S. W. (1993) Individuals in relationships [Understanding Relationship Processes 1] Newbury Park: SAGE. HM132.U56

Duck, S. W. (1993) Social contexts of relationships [Understanding Relationship Processes 3] Newbury Park: SAGE. HM132.U56

Duck, S. W. (1994) Dynamics of relationships [Understanding Relationship Processes 4] Thousand Oaks: SAGE HM132.U56

Duck, S. W. (1999) Relating to Others : SECOND EDITION Open University/Taylor Francis. HM132.D8195

Duck, S. W. (Ed) [Sections edited by K Dindia, W. Ickes, R. M. Milardo, R. S. L. Mills, & B. R. Sarason] Handbook of Personal Relationships SECOND EDITION Wiley: Chichester, 1997. HM132.H3325

Duran, R., & Prusank, D. T. (1997). Relational themes in menís and womenís popular non-fiction magazine articles. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 165-189.

Flora, J. and C. Segrin (1998). "Joint leisure time in friend and romantic relationships: The role of activity type, social skills and positivity." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 15: 711-718.

Gaines, S. O. and W. Ickes (2000). Perspectives on inter-racial relationships. The social psychology of personal relationships. W. Ickes and S. W. Duck. Chichester, Wiley: 55-78.

Harvey, J. H., Hendrick, S. S., & Tucker, K. (1988). Self-report methods in studying personal relationships. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships (pp. 99-113). Chichester, UK.: Wiley.

Hendrick, C. (1988). Roles and Gender in Relationships. Handbook of Personal Relationships. S. W. Duck. Chichester, UK., Wiley: 429-447.

Ickes, W. (2000) Methods of studying close relationships. In W. Ickes & S. W. Duck (Eds.) Social Psychology and Personal Relationships. (pp. 157-180). Wiley: Chichester, UK.

Ickes, W., & Tooke, (1988). The Observational Method: Studying the Interaction of Minds and Bodies. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships (pp. 79-97). Chichester, UK.: Wiley.

Klein, R. C. A., & Johnson, M. (1997). Strategies of Couple Conflict. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of Personal Relationships, 2nd Ed (pp. 469-486). Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Klein, R. C. A., & Milardo, R. (1993). Third-party influences on the development and maintenance of personal relationships. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Social contexts of relationships [Understanding relationship processes: Vol. 3:] (pp. 55-77). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Monsour, M. (1994). Similarities and dissimilarities in personal relationships: constructing meaning and building intimacy through communication. In S. W. Duck (Ed.), Understanding relationship processes 4: Dynamics of interactions (pp. 112-134). Newbury Park: SAGE.

Prusank, D., Duran, R., & DeLillo, D. A. (1993). Interpersonal relationships in women's magazines: Dating and relating in the 1970s and 1980s. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 10, 307-320.

Spitzberg, B. H., & Cupach, W. R. (Eds.). (1998). The dark side of close relationships . New York: Erlbaum.

Van Lear, C. A., Jr., , & Trujillo, N. (1986). On becoming acquainted: A longitudinal study of social judgment processes. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 3, 375-392.

VanderVoort, L. A., & Duck, S. W. (2000). Talking about "Relationships": Variations on a theme. In K. Dindia & S. W. D. (Eds) (Eds.), Communication and personal relationships (pp. 1-12). Chichester.: Wiley.

Werking, K. J. (1997). Just good friends: Cross-sex friendships. New York, Guilford Press.

Werking, K. J. (2000). Cross sex friendships as an ideological practice. In K. Dindia & S. W. Duck (Eds.), Communication and Personal Relationships (pp. 113-130). Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Wood, J. T. (1995). "Feminist scholarship and the study of relationships." Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 12: 103-120.

Wood, J. T., & Duck, S. W. (1995) Under-studied relationships: Off the beaten track [Understanding Relationship Processes 6] Thousand Oaks: SAGE. HM132.U56