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Social Exchange Theory Essay

723 words - 3 pages

Kevin Powell
Warren Tillson
Social Exchange Theory
Social exchange theory is a social psychological and sociological perspective that explains social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties. Social exchange theory posits that human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives. The theory has roots in economics, psychology and sociology. Social exchange theory features many of the main assumptions found in rational choice theory and structuralism. Social exchange theory was introduced in 1958 by the sociologist George Homans with the publication of his work "Social Behavior as Exchange". He ...view middle of the document...

Blau felt that if individuals focused too much on the psychological concepts within the theory, they would refrain from learning the developing aspects of social exchange. Blau emphasized technical economic analysis whereas Homans concentrated more on the psychology of instrumental behavior. Richard Emerson's early work on the theory intertwined with both Homans and Blau's ideas. From Homan's ideas, he believed social exchange theory was based on reinforcement principles. According to Emerson, Exchange is not a theory but a framework of from which other theories can converge and compared to structural functionalism. Emerson's perspective was similar to Blau's since they both focused on the relationship power had with the exchange process. Emerson says that social exchange theory is an approach in sociology that is described for simplicity as an economic analysis of noneconomic social situations. Exchange theory brings a quasi-economic more of analysis into those situations. Simple social exchange models assume that rewards and costs drive relationship decisions. Both parties in a social exchange take responsibility for one another and depend on each other. The elements of relational life include: Costs are the elements of relational life that have negative value to a person, such as the effort put into a relationship and the negatives of a partner....

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