Social Exchange Theory by George Homans Essay

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Social Exchange theory was created by George Homans in 1958. Since its publication as “Social Behavior as Exchange”, several other theorists like Peter Blau, Richard Emerson, John Thibaut, and Harold Kelley have contributed to the theory. Before diving into the biggest concepts of this theory, two main properties need to be discussed. This theory is all about social exchanges, which are essentially reactions and decisions in relationships. The two properties are self-interest and interdependence. They are the two fundamental interactions between two individuals who each have something of value to the other. When an individual is looking out for their own self-interest, they are looking out for their own economic and psychological needs …show more content…
Any social exchange results in some sort of dependence on one another, if it ends with a positive outcome, it will drive a positive relationship and it will drive the two to continue working together. The worth determines the decisions the individuals will make in the future. Blau mentioned, from his experience and education about microeconomics, that since the market is always changing, human interactions were similar to those done in the marketplace (DeLamater, 2006). The one big difference between social exchange and exchange with the market is that social exchange is more varied and more flexible so they have no set exchange rate or value like what would be in place in the market. While the cost and benefits can be found in almost all aspects of life, Homans and company focuses in on the human aspect of it, how it affects relationships, and how individuals decide in their relationships. When an individual uses this cost-reward system, they have a certain method to go through before they make their decision. People are bound to pick the decision which yields the largest reward. If there are multiple decisions that amount to the same costs, such as two things taking the same amount of time, then they will pick the decision that has the most rewards. The same type of idea applies when there are two decisions of equal reward, the person will pick what has fewer costs so that they end up with a higher worth. If the immediate outcomes are equal then the individual will