The Family Stone

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The Family Stone: Elements of Conflict
Conflict Management Resolution/HBD 6771.E1
May 4, 2011
Dr. Barbara Hollingshead

The Family Stone: Elements of Conflict Conflict, according to Wilmot & Hocker (2011), is defined as an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals. At the core of all conflict analysis is perception (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). In interpersonal conflicts, people react as though there are genuinely different goals, there is not enough of some resource, and the other person actually is getting in the way of something prized by the perceiver (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). This analysis gives attention to the elements that make up conflict between parties in the movie, Family Stone. While it focuses on the communicative exchanges that make up the conflict episodes in the movie, it also attempts to help one understand that people involved in conflicts have perceptions about their own thoughts and feelings and perceptions about the other’s thoughts and feelings; conflict is present when there are joint communicative representations of it (Wilmot & Hocker, 2011). In this analysis of the movie, joint communicative representations of the parties’ thoughts and feelings are identified in “expressions of struggle” between Everett and his family; between Meredith and Everett’s family; and between Everett and Meredith, and finally examining the emotions set off within the parties as a result of unresolved conflict. Incompatible goals are one of the “expressions of struggle” between Everett and his family. Everett wants to marry Meredith and give her his grandmother’s wedding ring that his mother promised to give him for his bride when he married. Everett wants his family to see him as successful as he engages in all the so-called trappings: Meredith, the BMW, and the neckties. His family does not want him to



References: Bodtker, A. M., and J. K. Jameson. 2001. Emotion in Conflict formation and its transformation: Application to organizational conflict management. International Journal of Conflict Management 12, no. 3 259-275. Deutsch, M. 1949, A theory of competition and cooperation. Human Relations 2: 129-151 Gottman, J. M. 1982. Emotional responsiveness in marital conversations. Journal of Communication 32, no. 8: 108-120. Hein, G. and T. Singer. 2008. I feel how you feel but not always: The empathic brain and its Modulation. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 18: 153-158. London, M (Producer) & Bezucha, T. (Director) (2006). The Family Stone. [Motion picture]. United States: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Wilmot, William & Hocker, Joyce (2011). Interpersonal Conflict. (8th Ed.).

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