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Social Exchange Theory

Uploaded by cutee2 on Nov 03, 2011

This essay will discuss the theory of social exchange, how it is applied to real-life situations, and criticism of the theory.

Section I – Discussion
The theory of social exchange developed from applying the economic concept of exchange to social relationships. In such, actors trade one commodity for another desired commodity. In the workplace, this exchange may entail reward exchanged for a costly act. An example would be the granting of prestige in return for giving expert assistance (Lovaglia et al 1995).
Once sensitized to it, social exchange can be witnessed everywhere, not restricted to economic relationships, but in friendship and love relationships as well. Children trade toys, neighbors exchange recipes, politicians offer concessions, and so on. The very commonness of social exchanges would make it simple to look at all social conduct in the regard of exchange, but to do so would rob it of its uniqueness. Mankind is mainly motivated by fear: fear of God, fear of other people, or fear of his own conscience, and it is pointless to attempt to force an action into a theoretical framework of social exchange (Blau 1964).
The social exchange context in less advanced societies is actually more ritualized and necessary. According to Mauss, “What they exchange is not exclusively goods and wealth, real and personal property, and things of economic value. They exchange rather courtesies, entertainments, ritual, military assistance, women, children, dances and feasts; and fairs in which the market is but one element and the circulation of wealth but one part of a wide and enduring contact (1954).
The basis of the concept of social exchange is this: anyone who gives a rewarding service to anther puts him under an obligation. In order to get rid of the obligation, the second individual must provide something of worth to the first individual. If both parties are content with what they receive, they tend to increase their own service in order to encourage the other to increase his response reciprocally, and to stay out of indebtedness. However, as the received assistance escalates, the need for more typically declines.
For example, when technical help is needed in the workplace, five minutes of an expert’s time are very valuable, and five minutes more probably just as valuable, but when the expert has been helping for an hour, another five minutes are less helpful than were the first five. Finally, the decreasing value of additional assistance...

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Uploaded by:   cutee2

Date:   11/03/2011

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   6 pages (1,247 words)

Views:   4947

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