Conflict and Relational Quality in Families

Authored by: Alan L. Sillars , Daniel J. Canary

The Routledge Handbook of Family Communication

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415881982
eBook ISBN: 9780203848166
Adobe ISBN: 9781136946370


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Conflict is one of the most studied aspects of family relationships (Bradbury, Rogge, & Lawrence, v 2001), with the dominant concern being relational quality (i.e., satisfaction, stability, adaptability, nurturance). Although the amount or severity of conflict is one marker of relational quality, many authors foreground the response to conflict (Canary, Cupach, & Messman, 1995). Charny (1980) exemplifies this spirit by declaring that: “what really becomes important in family life is not the ability to stay out of trouble but to get out of trouble, that is, the ability to process conflicts and dilemmas and unfairness constructively” (p. 43). Such a perspective highlights communication processes; communication being the principal means by which conflicts are managed to the benefit or detriment of families.

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