Martin Buber's Philosophy of Dialogue and Implications for Qualitative Family Research

Document Type



Martin Buber is well-known for his seminal book I and Thou and his philosophy of dialogue. Although he is often characterized as an existentialist, Buber referred to himself as a philosophical anthropologist, given his study of the wholeness and uniqueness of human being. Buber viewed human existence as grounded in relationships. However, in spite of his view of human being as fundamentally relational, his ideas have received relatively little attention in family theory and research. As part of the special issue on qualitative family scholarship and innovative theories in the interpretive tradition, this article first examines the intersection of Buber's philosophy with the interpretive tradition in social science research. It then presents an overview of Buber's relational constructs I–It and I–Thou and his philosophy of dialogue. Finally, the implications of Buber's ideas for the process of qualitative family research, particularly qualitative interviewing, are discussed, followed by a presentation of several potential qualitative studies that draw on Buber's theoretical framework of dialogue and way of being.


Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling

UNLV article access

Search your library