Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: September 17, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959384 | Print ISBN: 9781412959377 | Online ISBN: 9781412959384| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Leslie A. Baxter
Relational dialectics theory (RDT) is a specific application of the dialogism theory of the 20th century Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin. Given the scope of Bakhtin's work, several scholars in a variety of disciplines (including anthropology, communication, film, literature, linguistics, and political science, among others) have made use of dialogism theory in different ways. RDT uses it to help understand how communication constitutes our social, personal, and familial relationships. RDT is an interpretive theory of how communicators create meaning through interaction in relationships. The term dialectics from RDT emphasizes Bakhtin's conception of meaning making as a struggle between competing, or opposing, discourses, what Bakhtin called centripetal-centrifugal struggle. A discourse is a system of meaning, or a somewhat unified way of understanding languageand other expressive forms. Inconsistencies among various discourses, or systems of meaning, can create tensions, even clashes, that challenge communicators within a relationship. We are not talking here about opposing ...