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Forming the Central Framework for a Science of Marital Quality: An Interpretive Alternative to Marital Satisfaction as a Proxy for Marital Quality


Brigham Young University—Sociology, 2041 JFSB, Provo, UT 84602 (


The central framework for contemporary marital science was formed in the 1930s and centers on the uncritical acceptance of the primacy of method over theory in the pursuit of disengaged, amoral knowledge claims. This pursuit results in the unexamined commitment to an ontology of an essentialist and atomistic self and marriage as a self-defining relation. An interpretive alternative based in the work of Charles Taylor understands marital actors as self-interpreting agents for whom the question of the quality of their marriage is unavoidable and constitutive of their marital relations. Only by taking up the question of marital quality directly, in ways consonant with lived marital relations, can marital scholars adequately theorize the empirical reality of contemporary marital relations.

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