(Mis)communication in couples : positioning as a site of conflict : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
Mis)communication between people in couple relationships often results in arguments. Psychological research on this phenomenon has often relied on essentialist accounts of gender, offering little room for social or personal change. This study has used feminist poststructuralist theory to investigate the discourses that constitute couple relationships and enable (mis)communications in the form of arguments. From my reading of this theory and my experience of couple relationships I formulated three research questions: What discourses may be identified in young adults' talk about their couple relationships? How do these discourses specify the various obligations and entitlements of Boyfriends and Girlfriends? How are young adults' positions within these discourses implicated in their accounts of arguments? The transcripts of semi-structured interviews with young adults talking about their couple relationships provided the texts for analysis. I conducted interviews with six men and six women aged between 22 and 30. Four themes emerged from participants' talk: division of labour, relationship work, spending time, and arguments. I used analytic resources from Parker's (1992) and Baxter's (2003) interpretations of poststructuralist discourse analysis to identify five discourses that constitute these thematics. I have named these discourses egalitarian, traditional, togetherness, reciprocity, and men-need-space. Analyses address the ways in which these discourses position boyfriends and girlfriends. The implications of contradictory positioning for enabling arguments are discussed.
Appendix B & C missing from original copy
Man-woman relationships, Interpersonal relations