In this chapter we review recent literature on personal relationships. Conceptual issues are raised regarding the definition of close or personal relationships, and various approaches to the subject matter are characterized. We then consider the problem of creating a property space of types of relationships, necessary, we think, for the mature development of the field. We advocate and illustrate a comparative approach to personal relationships in which theoretically crucial relationship types are used to illuminate important substantive questions. Research is discussed on several core topics in the general study of close relationships: interdependence patterns, justice, emotions, private culture, and the interpersonal construction of the self. We then turn to a processual organization of the literature on relationships, focusing on the stages of a relationship—buildup, continuation, deterioration, and ending. We conclude with a plea for sociologists to broaden their interests to cover the full domain of close relationships and to use to their fullest advantage the insights of psychologists who are working in this area.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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