Title

Between Spearheads: Bricolage and Relationships

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-1997

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

A narrative perspective was employed to explore the problematic concept 'relationship'. Relationships are said to exist either in relational partners' patterned behaviors or in their shared perceptions, although neither alternative is well supported in the literature. In response, the claims were made (1) that relationship narratives transcend the behavior/perception dilemma by both depicting partners' behaviors and reporting their perceptions, and (2) that relationship stories are our primary source of knowledge about relationships. Certain advantages of this approach were developed, and to illustrate them, Levi-Strauss's concepts of bricoleur and bricolage were used as analytical tools for examining selected relationship stories. The narratives examined were excerpts from James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Russell Baker's Growing Up, and Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings. Their accounts were found to depict persons-in-relationship as well as certain commonly encountered episode types. In addition, the concept of the bricoleur called attention to the centrality of process in relationships, and the concept of bricolage pointed to the nature and source of materials for conducting relationships, their portability from one relationship to another, and their social-dialogical dimension.

Publication Title

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Volume

14

Issue

3

First Page

373

Last Page

386