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This essay will discuss sociological research and theories that offer the potential for advising people on aspects of creating and sustaining satisfying relationships across a number of perspectives and evaluate the evidence provided.

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Introduction

This essay will discuss sociological research and theories that offer the potential for advising people on aspects of creating and sustaining satisfying relationships across a number of perspectives and evaluate the evidence provided. The essay will then focus on the question of whether the role of giving advice is valid for social psychologists and the potential problems in offering relationship advice. Social psychology can be used in different contexts for different purposes. While many reasons for starting and maintaining the great variety of relationships in which people are involved have been scrutinised, the functions of relationships identified by researchers are dependant to a very great extent on what any particular theoretical perspective identifies as the 'goal of relating'(Miell and Croghan 2002 cited in Miell and Dallos 2002). To tell us anything of functional value as individuals about creating and sustaining relationships, the different perspectives of social psychology must stand up to robust investigation around issues of personal relevance. To do this we must assess how well evidence and theory from social psychology relate directly to our personal lives, our interpersonal relationships and our social roles. We must ask how we can draw upon these to help in the process of living our lives. The humanistic perspective places emphasis on particular ways of relating to others such as openness, acceptance of the uniqueness of others and willingness to accept responsibility for our contributions to relationships. ...read more.

Middle

Researchers have suggested that a man's violence towards a known woman may be based on his perception of powerlessness in their interpersonal relationship and his attempt to maintain control and exert influence (Goldner et al 1990; Minuchin 1984 cited in Miell and Dallos 2002). Research has also challenged the highly prevalent 'nuclear family' and middle class conception of the family life cycle theory asserting that there is need to broaden thinking to include other choices available to men and women such as marrying and choosing not to have children as well as choosing to be a single parent or cohabiting. (Wheeler et al 1989 cited in Miell and Dallos 2002). By failing to take account of differences in status and power between men and women in society, gender is allowed to remain a 'hidden dimension' in relationships and family life. It asserts that research can assist us in developing an increased awareness of the ways which society can help to structure our sense of identity and the patterns of our relationships. This new awareness may make it possible for individuals to 'vaccinate' themselves against such influences or take steps to counteract them. The psychodynamic perspective offers a way of making sense of much that seems mysterious or contradictory about our inner worlds, our social relationships and our group experiences. ...read more.

Conclusion

Social psychology acts as the informing or validating body of expertise for a range of institutions and agencies whose central function is maintaining social order defined by their own interest. Having secured its authority and expert status, social psychology proposes 'technical' solutions to problems at individual and group levels that otherwise might be considered moral, ethical or political. It is sanitizes social control issues as it teaches its methodologies to those professionals it trains and lends legitimacy to their goals for and shaping of the world making 'social improvements' a matter of applying the correct technique and camouflaging underlying power transactions. It might be argued that social psychology forms the basis for effective modes of social control by promoting particular ways of thinking about the social world, determining what is regarded as evidence about it and influencing the language of social, personal and interpersonal relations. Given the historical reality of whom social psychology offers its services to, how they in turn feel validated in using it and how this may adversely affect the quality of life of those to whom its tenets are applied, offering relationship advice with the expectation of its purpose being judged supportive, life-enhancing and empowering to individuals might by some be considered as paradoxical and by others positively Machiavellian. ...read more.

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