ERIC Number: ED164370
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Sep-4
A Structural Theory of Social Exchange: Implications for Family Theory and Research.
McDonald, Gerald W.
This paper explores the potential contributions of social exchange theory in investigations of marriage and family relationships. The basic premise of social exchange is that individuals in social interaction attempt to maximize rewards and minimize costs to obtain the most profitable outcomes. Research has shown that five factors must be considered in studying social exchange within marriages: the variety of types of exchange relationships into which spouses enter, the nature of the exchange relationship between spouses (competitive or cooperative), the culturally-internalized expectations of husband and wife roles, the cognitive orientation of the individuals in the relationship (self-oriented or relationship-oriented), and the permanence of the marriage. Four types of exchange relationships can be identified: mutually benevolent, mutually considerate, mutually exploitative, and mutually hostile. The mutually benevolent relationship most closely fits the traditional marital arrangement in American society. In this type of relationship the generosity of one spouse is reciprocated by the other spouse. However, due to the steadily increasing proportion of wives participating in the labor force, the power structure in marriages is becoming more balanced and many marriages are starting to represent the mutually considerate relationship. The author concludes that comprehensive theories of social exchange should look beyond traditional behaviors in order to accurately reflect changing social interactions. (Author/AV)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (San Francisco, California, September 4, 1978)