Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Social Exchange Theory

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3106 words Published: 11th Jul 2017

Reference this

Social Exchange Theory is a perspective of the field of social psychology and sociology to explain social change and stability, representing them as a process of negotiated exchanges between people. Social exchange theory can be described as the theory, according to which, human interaction is a unique transaction, which seeks to increase the “rewards” and to reduce the “costs”.

The social exchange theory advocates that all human relationships are formed by using a cost-benefit analysis and comparison with alternatives. For example, when a person perceives the costs of a relationship over the profits made, the person, according to this theory, leaves the relationship. This theory has its roots in economics, psychology and sociology. The social exchange theory is linked to the rational choice theory and structuralism, its major features.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Exchange theory arose as a reaction to functionalism, which focused on the impact of a phenomenon on the system. This is not a single theory, but rather the band theory, describing the social world as a system of exchanges of goods (tangible and intangible) between individuals and social groups. Social exchange theorists see every interaction as a transaction – “something for something.” It is like a “theory of individual self-interest.” If a person takes any action, it does so with the prospect of benefit for himself. Often it is the intangible benefit, such as respect from others, obedience, satisfaction, etc.

Social exchange theory is a theory in social science which states that there are elements in social relations without discipline, sacrifice, and benefits that affect each other. This theory explains how humans view their relationships with others in accordance with the assumption of human self is to: the balance between what is given to the relationship and what is excluded from that relationship.

There is no unified sociology of exchange, but one can distinguish three main theoretical points of theories. Taking the example of the mutual exchange of between the bride and groom, so this could be either a civil contract between two different-actors to the mutual exclusive use of their bodies, or a mutually donated sacrament, by which Christianity continues, or view as an institutional and thus pacification a driver or will form.

Exchange of individuals. Sociological theorists think consider the assumption that individuals always act when exchanged (individualistic, paired, antagonistic perspective). No matter what they share in a particular case, there are always sociological “social sanctions”. As “positive” sanctions, for example, congratulations or goods, but as “negative” there are insults or threats. Often in the exchange theory only positive or ambivalent sanctions are treated, but include more general approaches and negative sanctions. In the distribution of conflict the “actors” face each other with conflicting interests. The one advantage is the other drawback: any one tried if it goes to positive sanctions, and spend as little as possible from the opponent to gain as much as possible. In economics, this strategy, which it called only for positive sanctions (such as goods for money in markets), is the “minimax principle”. And also, if people have antagonistic relations and negative social sanctions (for example acts of violence against violence, such as in war) taken into account, the exchange ends here trying to minimize its losses and maximize the opponent. Considering the criticism, critical is pointed out that this is based on Homans and Blau, Exchange Theory as a variant or mutation of the behaviorism. It had become a rational choice model, and this methodological simplification was achieved at a price, as compared to classical and other approaches in sociology would be neglected by extra-economic motivations, norms and institutions and their history in general.

Durkheim or Mauss expected to behave in exchange for all social collectives (community, systemic view). Controlled by the exchange, the consideration to the group received the actors (mostly positive) from each other sanction. The players share a common interest in the welfare of the collective, which is the individual’s self-interest. Each exchange includes the end and always a compromise in favor of the collective, even as a loyal member of a community and even with regard to his own advantage. The Collective is always with a person, which is reflected in valid rituals (for example the handshake) or norms (such as the Commercial Law) that express stability. Because of that, all exchange behavior is also spoken of as “amphibole” exchange. The theorist Clausen considers one of some forms of exchange that, in addition to the nature of man involves him into it with acting. Here, the parties conduct an exchange so that the survival of the human species will be encouraged to nature and other species. So it is not only a sociological but also the anthropological institution. This refers in particular to reproduction, child care and fighting prowess. The most common example is the dyad between infant and caregiver time (usually, but not necessarily the mother), is expected to result that in the both the exchange is biologically supported and the happier they are, the better it is for others.

Exchange theory by Homans. According to George Homans, the social behavior is an exchange of material goods, and it is also intangible, such as the symbols of approval and prestige. Homans, George tried to explain the behavior defined in the broadest sense as a result of interaction in which individuals acquire, sell, or share resources. He tried to explain social behavior using fundamental concepts of behavior, developed by behavioral psychologists, and neoclassical economists. Behavioral model of operant conditioning is based on the utilitarian principle that individuals will seek to maximize enjoying and to avoid or minimize the pain. It is assumed that individuals will respond as expected to reward and punishment. Any interaction provides an opportunity to share resources, in which each party tries to get resources, with a higher value in comparison with that which he or she gives or which refuses. “All social organizations were created on the basis of the network exchanges. The organization needs the unit to be fulfilled by other bodies belonging to this organization.” Homans has developed five general provisions relating to social behavior and resource sharing. Three of them reproduce the model of behavioral psychologists. The first statement directly follows from the model of operant conditioning, and says: “In respect of any acts performed by people, the more often a person is rewarded for a particular action, the more that person will perform this action. The second situation is linked to recognition of the role of past experience: “In the past, the emergence of a particular stimulus or set of incentives has created a situation in which human action is rewarded, the more the present-day incentives are similar to those past stimuli, the more that person will perform the same or similar to his action in the present.” However, the third provision states that “for their actions when a person does not receive the expected rewards or receive unexpected penalty, he goes berserk and can behave aggressively.”He created a series of allegations, among them are the claim of success, the assertion of deprivation and that there is saturation of aggression. These statements are a part of seven and, according to crowning this list is the assertion of rationality, which says that the body of the two alternative measures will choose the one which gives the most likely results to achieve greater benefits. The basic proposition is:

– success: the more action the individual is rewarded with, the more likely it is to take this action.

– the stimulus: if the past occurrence of a specific stimulus or combination of stimuli was a circumstance, in which individual action has been rewarded, the more likely it is that the unit would take this or a similar effect.

– value: the more the action is for the individual securities, the more likely that it will be demonstrated this action.

-saturation of deprivation: the more frequently in the recent past, the unit received a particular prize, the less valuable it becomes for each additional unit of the award.

– frustration-aggression: If the unit does not bring action to obtain a reward or punishment received by the entity, which they did not expect, it will react with anger, and anger aggressive behavior results will have a reward value.

Exchange Theory by Peter Blau. Peter Blau introduced the analysis of exchange, which processes the term “marginal utility”, which says that “the more the expected rewards entity obtains from a particular act, the less valuable this action is, and the less likely it will be”. The idea is that if in a result of the exercise we get some action on the awards, you will have less value, which will be a new round of the award. Another concept introduced by Blau is the concept of “standards for fair exchange”, which indicates what should be the ratio of rewards to costs in the exchange relationship. If these standards are shaken, then the injured party may disclose to aggressive behavior. Blau concept differs from the concept of Homans that provides conflict situations. Balance in one relationship, which is impaired by homeostasis seen in another. Blau has another concept, which is “social attraction” that is the perception of opportunities for reward. This is according to sociologist factor, necessary for the existence of the exchange ratio, which is based on the belief that people who “give awards, in turn, you will receive the award as payment for the goods delivered”. There are four types (classes): the prize money, social acceptance, respect (deference) and submission. Of these, the greatest value is the submission, then the respect, acceptance, and the least appropriate reward in the relations of social exchange is money.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Submission is the most valuable prize because for Blau it is inherent in the relationship of power, and this in turn gives a possibility of denying rewards to those who do not want to comply with the standards. Power is born when the value of services exceeds the value of services received in return. If people have to choose only one or a few alternative sources of awards, then it also comes to forcing submission. This is further facilitated if people are not giving to the possibility to use the coercion and opposition to a person providing services. Inability to work around without data prizes also affects positively the opportunity to force the submission by the person in possession of these awards.

Exchange in social psychology. Social psychology also speaks about human relations as relations of exchange. These systems are based on the so-called rule of reciprocity, under which “we are committed to the future for favors, gifts, invitations and the goods that we have received.” According to social psychologists one of the important principles is governing the human investigation. This commitment to the rematch probably exists in all human societies. Researchers say that this rule has developed in order to encourage people to contact, based on mutual exchange of services – without fear of giving something to another, and we lose it forever. Another form of this rule is called reciprocal concessions, namely: if someone goes to hand us, we do it to him, too. Thus we can safely take the first step to someone, as he will be obliged to give us a similar sacrifice. This rule is valid according to social psychologists and it is an effective regulator of social relations.

The emergence of social exchange theory. In general, the social exchange theory consists of social relations rather than public. The societies have viewed the behavior influence of each other in the relationship; there are also elements of discipline, of sacrifice and gain that reflect social exchange. The reward is all that through the sacrifice, when the sacrifice can be avoided, and the benefit is reduced by the rewards of sacrifice. So the social behavior of the exchange at least between two people is based on the cost-benefit calculations. For example, patterns of behavior in the workplace, romance, marriage and friendship. Analogy from the case, at some point people can feel in any of their friends, who, usually, are always trying to get something from you. At that time you always give what a friend needs from you, but the opposite is actually happening when you need something from your friends. Each individual course has a goal to be friends with each other. These individuals would be expected to do something for others, help each other if needed, and provide mutual support. However, maintaining friendly relations also requires the costs, such as the lost time and energy and other activities. Although these costs are not seen as something that is expensive or burdensome when viewed from the point of reward obtained from these friendships. However, these costs should be considered if we are to objectively analyze the relationships that exist in a friendly transaction. If the cost seems not in accordance with the compensation, what happens is the uneasy feeling of a person who feels that the benefits received were too low compared to the cost or sacrifice that has been given.

An analysis of the social relationships that occur according to the cost and reward is one characteristic of the exchange theory. This exchange theory has focused on micro-level analysis, particularly at the interpersonal level of social reality. In this discussion the focus will be on the notion of exchange theory by Homans and Blau. Homans in his analysis insisted on the necessity to use the principles of individual psychology to explain social behavior rather than merely describing it. But Blau, on the other hand, was trying to move from the level of interpersonal exchanges at the micro level to the macro level of social structure. He attempted to show how larger are the social structures that emerged from the basic exchange processes.

Unlike the analysis described by the theory of symbolic interaction, exchange theory was mainly seen as the real behavior, not the processes that are purely subjective. This was also adopted by Homans and Blau, who were not focused on the subjective level of consciousness or reciprocal relationships between the levels of dynamic interaction of subjective. Homans further argued that scientific explanations should be focused on real behavior and then can be observed and measured empirically. The process of social exchange has also been expressed by the classical sociologists. As expressed in the classical economic theory of the 18th and 19th century, the economists like Adam Smith have analyzed the economic market as a result of a comprehensive collection from a number of individual economic transactions. He assumes that transactions will happen only if both parties can gain from these exchanges, and welfare of the community in general can be very well secured when the individuals are left to pursue personal interests through negotiated exchanges in private.

Conflicts of individualistic and social exchange in collectivism. Conflict that occurs is a result of the growing contradiction between the individualistic orientation and collectivism. Homans is probably someone who was very stressed on an individualistic approach to the development of social theory. This is certainly different from the explanation that the Levi-Strauss, a collectivist, in issues especially regarding to marriage and kinship patterns. Levi-Strauss is an anthropologist who comes from France. He developed a theoretical perspective of social exchange on the practice of marriage and kinship system of primitive societies. A general pattern of analysis is when a man marries his mother’s daughter. A pattern that happens is that people rarely marry the daughter of his father’s brother. This latter pattern was analyzed further by Bronislaw Malinowski, who advanced by the exchange of nonmaterial. In explaining this, Levi-Strauss distinguishes two exchange systems, which include restricted and generalized exchange. In restricted exchange, members of the dyad groups are directly involved in the exchange transaction, each member of the couple give each other a personal basis. And in the generalized exchange, members of a group of triads or even larger accept something other than a dyad who gives something useful. In these exchanges the impact is on the integration and solidarity groups are in a more effective manner. The main purpose of this exchange process is not to allow couples who are involved in an exchange to meet the needs of individualization. An analysis of marriage and kinship behavior is a criticism of Sir James Frazer’s explanation of a British expert who studies the economic anthropology on patterns of exchange that occurs between mating pairs in primitive society.

The theory of exchange today does not represent a single school of thought. Strictly speaking, there are several theories that share a common position that human interaction is a process of exchange. In addition, each of them has their own views on human nature, society and social science. Theories of exchange have been and still are often criticized for the lack of freshness, the evidence of certain statements, ignoring the existence of a forced situation. Most can be found with the view that this point of view narrows the social life and relations between people only to the physical assets. As a fact, social forms of exchange are perceived differently and communicated, as a sociological and anthropological analysis would be expected to. As the question of justice, including equivalence of an exchange is directed according to dominant values, or it is judged differently from the representatives of warring values.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: