Social Exchange Theory by George Homans

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 which can result in things like greed and competition. However, self-interest is not seen as a negative thing; in fact, it can result in both parties achieving their own interests. Interdependence, on the other hand, is harder to study but it is the combination of the two using both their efforts to gain something. Interdependence has higher social implications. Homans, as the founder of the theory, had it say that the theory consists of a social exchange with rewards and costs between at least two people. Rewards are defined as objects that have a positive value and are sought out by individuals. Costs are defined as objects that have a negative value and are avoided by individuals. Rewards in regards to relationships are things like support, friendship, and acceptance, while costs are things like energy spent, time, and money. Essentially this theory states that every individual is trying to maximize their wins or their worth and end up with something that is more positive than negative. Worth equ...

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...omans, G. C. (1958). Social Behavior as Exchange. American Journal of Sociology, 63(6), 597-606.
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