Communication scholars and other social scientists use the term social relationships to describe relationships between two or more persons that are primarily based on their social attributes. This contrasts with personal or interpersonal relationships, which are terms used to describe relationships that are based primarily on psychological characteristics of interlocutors, such as personality or internal motivation. As such, using the term social relationships reflects a theoretical stance that prefers sociological explanations of human behavior as opposed to psychological explanations. This entry first discusses the importance of relational context for the meaning of communication and how it is researched. Then, it describes how the concept of social relationships can be used to define relational context. Finally, it discusses practical implications for researchers arising from ...
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