What is Social Exchange Theory? - Social Work Degree Guide
Social exchange theory is a social psychological theory that views relationships as the result of a cost-reward calculation made by the. The key, according to Marley, is to figure out in which relationships the benefits exceed the costs, preferably by a wide margin. Of course a rational response to. Social exchange theory is a sociological and psychological theory that studies the social They used the reward-cost matrices from the Game Theory and discovered some clues of individuals' interdependence such as the . Simple social exchange models assume that rewards and costs drive relationship decisions.
Costs are the negative consequences of a decision, such as time, money and energy. Rewards are the positive results of social exchanges. Therefore, the generally accepted idea is that people will subtract the costs from the rewards in order to calculate the value. For example, a person asks an acquaintance to help them move, but they only slightly know each other.
The acquaintance will assess their relationship history, the state of their relationship and the potential benefits. However, if the person promises certain favors, such as helping out the acquaintance with a difficult problem, they may agree. What are the Basic Principles of the Theory? The theory of social exchange proposes that individuals will make decisions based on certain outcomes.
For example, they will expect the most profit, rewards, positive outcomes and long-term benefits. They will also prefer the exchange that results in the most security, social approval and independence. In contrast, they will also choose alternatives that result in the fewest costs, consequences and least social disapproval.
Therefore, every social exchange decision can be a complex decision that requires the person to evaluate different costs and rewards. Blau's utilitarian focus encouraged the theorist to look forward, as in what they anticipated the reward would be in regards to their next social interaction. He focused on the interaction and relationship between individuals and parties. His view of social exchange theory emphasizes the resource availability, power, and dependence as primary dynamics.
He thought that relations were organized in different manners, and they could differ depending on the type and amour of the resources exchanged. He poses the idea that power and dependence are the main aspects that define a relationship.
Social Exchange Theory - Definitions and Examples | Businesstopia
According to Emerson, Exchange is not a theory, but a framework from which other theories can converge and be compared to structural functionalism. He 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. As it works in the form of indirect reciprocities, Levi-Strauss suggest the concept of generalized exchange.
To him, the meaning of individual self-interest is a combination of economic and psychological needs. They developed a theoretical framework based on the interdependence of actors. They also highlighted social implications of different forms of interdependence such as reciprocal control. The study of the theory from the microeconomics perspective is attributed to Blau. Blau stated that once this concept is understood, it is possible to observe social exchanges everywhere, not only in market relations, but also in other social relations like friendship.
The major difference between social and economic exchange is the nature of the exchange between parties. Neoclassic economic theory views the actor as dealing not with another actor but with a market and environmental parameters, such as market price. 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. Rewards are the elements of a relationship that have positive value.
Rewards can be sense of acceptance, support, and companionship etc. As with everything dealing with the social exchange theory, it has as its outcome satisfaction and dependence of relationships. The social-exchange perspective argues that people calculate the overall worth of a particular relationship by subtracting its costs from the rewards it provides.
On the contrary, a negative number indicates a negative relationship. The worth of a relationship influences its outcome, or whether people will continue with a relationship or terminate it. Positive relationships are expected to endure, whereas negative relationships will probably terminate. In a mutually beneficial exchange, each party supplies the wants of the other party at lower cost to self than the value of the resources the other party provides. In such a model, mutual relationship satisfaction ensures relationship stability.
The "satisfactory-ness" of the rewards that a party gains from an exchange relationship is judged relative to some standard, which may vary from party to party. This is used to stabilize relationships and to identify the egoism.
They introduce the social penetration theorywhich states the nature and quality of social exchange and close bonds.
It suggests once the individuals start to give more of themselves to one another, relationships progress progressively from exchanging superficial goods to others more meaningful. Some examples of inputs can be qualifications, promotions, interest on the job and how hard one works. Some outcomes can be pay, fringe benefits, and power status. The individual will mainly expect an equitable input-outcome ratio.
This can occur in a direct exchange of the two parties, or there can be a third party involved. These changes can occur over a person's life course through the various relationships, opportunities, and means of support. An example of this is the convoy model of support, this model uses concentric circles to describe relationships around an individual with the strongest relationships in the closet circle.
As a person ages, these relationships form a convoy that moves along with the person and exchanges in support and assistance through different circumstances that occur. Within this model, there are different types of support Social support a person can receive, those being intangible, tangible, instrumental, and informational.
Intangible support can either be social or emotional and can be love, friendship and appreciation that comes with valuable relationships. Tangible support are physical gifts given to someone such as land, gifts, money, transportation, food, and completing chores. Instrumental support are services given to someone in a relationship. Finally, informational support is the delivering of information that is helpful to an individual.
Cost being equal, they choose alternatives from which they anticipate the greatest rewards. Rewards being equal, they choose alternatives from which they anticipate the fewest costs. Immediate outcomes being equal, they choose those alternatives that promise better long- term outcomes.
Long-term outcomes being perceived as equal, they choose alternatives providing better immediate outcomes. Costs and other rewards being equal, individuals choose the alternatives that supply or can be expected to supply the most social approval or those that promise the least social disapproval.
Costs and other rewards being equal, individuals choose statuses and relationships that provide the most autonomy. Other rewards and costs equal, individuals choose alternatives characterized by the least ambiguity in terms of expected future events and outcomes. Other costs and rewards equal, they choose alternatives that offer the most security for them.
Other rewards and costs equal, they choose to associate with, marry, and form other relationships with those whose values and opinions generally are in agreement with their own and reject or avoid those with whom they chronically disagree.
SAGE Books - Social Exchange Theories: Calculating the Rewards and Costs of Personal Relationships
Other rewards and costs equal, they are more likely to associate with, marry, and form other relationships with their equals, than those above or below them.
Equality here is viewed as the sum of abilities, performances, characteristics, and statuses that determine one's desirability in the social marketplace. In industrial societies, other costs and rewards equal, individuals choose alternatives that promise the greatest financial gains for the least financial expenditures. In his article published inNye originally proposed seven propositions that were common in all types of relationship, A few years later he would expand the propositions to a total of twelve.
Social Exchange Theory
The first five propositions listed are classified as general propositions and are substance free-meaning, the propositions themselves can stand alone within the theory. Proposition number six has been identified by scholars as a notion that there is a general assumption of a need for social approval as a reward and can therefor act as a drive force behind actions. Proposition seven will only work if the individual has the freedom to be excluded from outside factors while in a social exchange relationship.
The twelfth and final proposition is directed towards the way our society has a heightened value placed on monetary funds. By studying such forms of behavior he hoped to illuminate the informal sub-institutional bases of more complex social behavior, typically more formal and often institutionalized.
His vision of the underpinnings of social structure and institutional forms is linked to the actions of individuals, for example to their responses to rewarding and punishment circumstances.
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This set of theoretical ideas represents the core of Homans's version of social exchange theory. Malinowski[ edit ] With his Kula exchange, Malinowski drew a sharp differentiation between economic exchange and social exchange.
Using his Kula exchange, Malinowski states that the motives of exchange are only social and psychological. Mauss argues the exchange found in the society is influenced by social behaviors, while morality and religion influence all aspects of life. Bohannan[ edit ] Bohannan focuses his theory on economic problems such as multicentrism, and modes of exchange.
He contributed to the social exchange theory finding the role and function of markets in tribal subsistence economies, makes a distinction of economic redistribution and market exchange from social relationships. Polanyi[ edit ] He proposes three principles to create a new idea for socioeconomic change, transforming traditional economies, and political economic development.
Sahlins[ edit ] He presents the idea that the economy is a category of behavior instead of just a simple category of culture. Assumptions[ edit ] Social exchange theory is not one theory but a frame of reference within which many theories can speak to another, whether in argument or mutual support.
Thibaut and Kelley have based their theory on two conceptualizations: Thus, the assumptions they make also fall into these categories.
The assumptions that social exchange theory makes about human nature include the following: Humans are rational beings. The standards that humans use to evaluate costs and rewards vary over time and from person to person. The assumptions social exchange theory makes about the nature of relationships include the following: Relational life is a process. The prisoner's dilemma is a widely used example in game theory that attempts to illustrate why or how two individuals may not cooperate with each other, even if it is in their best interest to do so.
Thibaut and Kelley proposed that a comparison level CL is a standard expectations that people use to evaluate the satisfaction of their current relationship. Similarly, people evaluate the stability of their relationship by considering the alternatives outside of the relationship comparison level for alternative, CLalt. After a cost-benefit analysis to decide if a person wants to start a relationship and putting them to the test against the comparison levels, the person might look at the alternatives to having the relationship.
In a romantic relationship, one might compare their current partner to their previous partners and expect the same level of affection that they previously got. But, the current relationship might not measure up to their comparison level, leading the person to seek alternatives. Criticisms of Social Exchange Theory Katherine Miller presented several major problems with the social exchange theory. According to Miller, This theory reduces interpersonal interaction to a rational process.
Developed in the s, the theory invites openness and freedom in ideas, which might not be the best option for everyone.
Relationships are not always linear and intimacy is not always the ultimate goal of a relationship, both of which are assumptions of social exchange theory.