chapter  21
Negotiated Morality Theory
How Family Communication Shapes Our Values
ByVincent R. Waldron, Douglas L. Kelley
Pages 11

Negotiated morality theory (NMT) originated within the communication discipline, yet it also represents an expression of the "dialogic" strain of moral theorizing. In contrast to approaches that cast morality in terms of virtuous qualities of individuals, dialogic perspectives emphasize communication processes. They view relationship ethics as shaped by one's interpretations of the values espoused by such sources as family, peer groups, faith community, and culture. Moral development is a lifelong process, one often shaped by important conversations with family members. NMT is a framework for understanding moral sense making in personal and family relationships. It encourages researchers to listen for the talk that family members use to negotiate, define, and enact their moral commitments. NMT encourages researchers to examine family communication with an eye toward understanding how it serves certain moral functions for the members. In NMT, relational communication is allocated a central role in the lifelong process of moral development.