Social Exchange Theory

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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 defined social exchange as the exchange of activity, tangible or intangible, and more or less rewarding or costly, between at least two persons. After Homans founded the theory, other theorists continued to write about it, particularly Peter M. Blau and Richard M. Emerson, who in addition to Homans are generally thought of as the major developers of the exchange perspective within sociology. Homans' work emphasized the individual behavior of actors in interaction with one another. Although there are various modes of exchange, Homans centered his studies on dyadic exchange John Thibaut and Harold Kelly are recognized for focusing their studies within the theory on the psychological concepts, the dyad and small group. Lévi-Strauss is recognized for contributing to the emergence of this theoretical perspective from his work on anthropology focused on systems of generalized exchange, such as kinship systems and gift exchange. Peter Blau focused his early writings on social exchange theory more towards the economic and utilitarian perspective. Whereas Homans focused on reinforcement principles which believe individual's base their next social move on past experiences, Blau's utilitarian focus encouraged the theorist…...

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