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Rethinking Relationships

Coordinating Interpersonal Approaches (Second Edition)
Steve Duck
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Authored by renowned communication and relationship scholar Steve Duck, Rethinking Relationships Through Rhetoric: Coordinating Interpersonal Approaches invites readers to reconsider their assumptions and understanding of relationships. The second edition of the text features a fresh emphasis on rhetoric and its insights into the ways in which individuals use discourse to promote vantage points and opinions or to make arguments or representations that are intended to influence others.

The book posits that everyday communication is largely argumentative, propositional, sermonic, and intentionally influential in nature. Readers learn how even mundane communication subtly pitches the views of the speaker towards the listener and invites approval or objection. The text reconsiders the implications of seeing acquaintance as an ongoing, unfinished, and largely communicatively-based activity that is not captured in laboratory snapshots, and so challenges readers to better understand how relationships are formed through series of everyday interactions and active inquiry by listeners rather than “self-disclosure” by speakers. It also explores how cultural influence, the assessment of behaviors, and moral judgements affect everyday interactions and consequently, our relationships.

Providing readers with a deep examination of the ways in which individuals practice their relationships and embody them in social spaces, Rethinking Relationships Through Rhetoric is an ideal textbook for advanced courses and graduate programs in interpersonal communication and interpersonal relationships.

Steve Duck is an accomplished and prominent relationship scholar and the Daniel and Amy Starch Distinguished Research Chair in CLAS at the University of Iowa. His work centers on relationship development and disintegration with a focus on everyday interactions, especially variation in experiences and understandings over time. He has edited or written 50 books and was founder and first editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
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"The Rethinking Relationships text is helpful for the course because it clearly presents communication as the way meaning-making occurs and thus how relating occurs. Students are exposed to the argument for relationships as unfinished business and communication as the dynamic process for constructing meanings about relating that unfold over time. The book presents a way to view relationships that is often new for students who tend to know self-help type ideas about relationships or cookie-cutter social science research that presents doing certain things in relationships leads to certain outcomes...Students really like the book. They have commented that they were happy that they had to buy the book (unlike other course texts they had experienced). They appreciated the easy to read and conversational style of writing. Some of the concepts (e.g., personal and social orders) are new to students, but Dr. Duck does a nice job of easing students into the concepts and building the complexity as the book progresses. Thus, the arguments are scaffolded in an approachable manner...Whether it be in self-help or some social science research, our understanding of how relationships work is often distilled into overly simplified cause-effect, input-output type processes. Rethinking Relationships challenges readers to consider how the complexities of culturally situated and embodied talk construct relational meaning. The way we understand relating moves beyond global perceptions of personality, attitudes, and emotion, but is formed out of the everyday talk and processes of sharing meaning that unfold over time. The main point then is that relationships are performances and persuasive attempts at shared meaning that are never really finalized."
Joshua R. Pederson, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Alabama

"I remain impressed with the rhetorical approach to interpersonal communication. IPC has almost always been in the hands of quantitative and qualitative scholars, but there are important critical and rhetorical aspects of IPC that have long been ignored (as Duck notes throughout). This is what is important."
Christopher A. Medjesky, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Findlay

"I am impressed with the breadth of coverage. He is not only integrating across disciplines, but across decades. Often early work is ignored, not because we have learned something new or better, but just because it is 'dated.' He appropriately draws upon both early work and more recent work. It is a thoughtful in-depth cross-disciplinary examination of the way relationships are enacted. That is a thorough and thoughtful view of relationships beyond a narrow social science perspective. Students who are both more quantitatively oriented and qualitatively oriented would benefit."
Laura Stafford, Director and Professor of Media and Communication, Bowling Green State University