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Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family

Communication, Identity, and Difference


Edited By Jordan Soliz and Colleen Warner Colaner

Despite growing recognition of the diversity of family forms and structures, discourses among family scholars and practitioners as well as in popular culture continue to operate from the assumption that families are fairly homogeneous in terms of the values and beliefs, social positions, and identities of individual family members. Navigating Relationships in the Modern Family provides a unique and important perspective on how communication within and about families related to issues of identity and difference can ameliorate negative processes and, at times, potentially amplify positive outcomes such as well-being and relational solidarity. Chapters in this edited volume focus on divergent social identities in the family (e.g., interfaith families, multiethnic-racial families, acculturation and immigration) as well as differences emerging from family formative processes (e.g., stepfamilies, in-law relationships, foster care). In addition to synthesizing the current state of the scholarship in these particular family contexts, each chapter discusses the interplay between families and the larger social and cultural context. For instance, how does grandparent-grandchild communication influence attitudes toward older adults and aging? Can we improve interfaith dialogue in larger societal interactions by understanding communication in interfaith families? How do ideologies of social class and social discourses about adoption and foster care influence family functioning? Chapters conclude with a discussion on implications for scholars and family practitioners. The edited volume would make an ideal primary or secondary required text for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses on families as well as specialized family courses on understudied family relationships and forms. The volume also serves as an important resource for family scholars and practitioners.

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About the Authors


Colleen Warner Colaner (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Missouri. Her research examines how communication shapes and sustains relationships in complex, diverse, and modern family structures and experiences. In this work, she focuses on children’s communication experiences and abilities, with an aim to understand children’s unique perceptions of their family relationships. She takes an applied approach to scholarship by translating family communication research to families in the community. She serves as a family communication educator, partnering with mental health professionals to provide families with strategies for connecting and coping.

Monica Cornejo (M.A. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2019) is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at University of California, Santa Barbara. She studies the privacy management, identity, and family communication of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Ultimately, Monica aims to utilize her research to create new resources and interventions that will benefit undocumented immigrants’ social mobility and interpersonal relationships.

Debbie S. Dougherty (Ph.D. University of Nebraska, 2000) is Professor of Communication at University of Missouri and the Editor in Chief for the Journal of Applied Communication Research. Her research program explores the relationship between power and organizing, particularly as related to both sexual harassment and social class. She has authored a book on social class and communication, titled The Reluctant Farmer: An Exploration of Work, Social Class, and the Production of Food. Her research has been published in journals such as Harvard Business...

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