This Essay Is On Blau's Exchange Theory

1437 words - 6 pages

Social Exchange

Social ExchangeIntro:In Peter M. Blau's chapter, "Exchange and Power in Social Life", he uses social exchange and social attraction to explain how social order emerges. Blau's theory can be used to explain how and why people choose to interact, disregard, or follow certain people, government policies, or demands. By understanding how social exchange and social attractions work, it can be used to explain why social order cannot emerge spontaneously. By explaining how social exchange and social attraction work, these processes can be used as examples explain why social order emerges.Theory:Blau's theory seeks to explain why individuals associate with others to form groups. He explains this by using a term he calls social exchange. This means that social behavior only occurs in terms of an exchange process. Before this social exchange can occur, Blau states that there has to be social attraction. Social attraction is, "the force that induces human beings to establish social associations on their own initiative and to expand the scope of their associations once they have been formed" (Blau 1964: 99). However, this social attraction only can take place if one individual finds that it is in his interests to have this attraction to the other. Therefore, the process of social attraction led to the process of social exchange. The mutual attraction creates the association. For this process to be complete, the exchange has to maximize the benefits and minimize the cost of this exchange. Each player weighs the potential benefits and risks of the social relationship. If the risk outweigh the rewards, the relationship either never takes place or one person will end or abandon the relationship.However, in the exchange process where one person does not have anything to offer the other, there are four alternatives to achieve the exchange. The person who does not have anything to offer the other, can force the other to give them help, seek help from another source, find another way to get the help. If these options are not available, the person can resolve to obey the wishes of the helper. This results in rewarding the helper with power over the other. Because of this process, it gives rise to differentiation of power. This power then is used as the social reward. For example, "A person who commands service others need, and who is independent of any at their command, attains power over others by making the satisfaction of their need contingent on their compliance" (Blau 1964: 101). This power is viewed as legitimate if the cost for the subjects is less than the benefits they get from the ruler. If the cost is greater than the benefits, then the one who does not hold the power will feel exploited. There are different implications of the power struggle when it comes to individuals and group approval of power. The implications for collective approval or disapproval have greater consequences in the development in the social structure. For example,...

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