Essay on Social Exchange Theory

1520 Words 7 Pages
Social Exchange Theory (SET), a theory based around basic economic principles, evaluation of relationships; consisting of four measures and has been argued whether or not it’s even a theory at all. Richard M. Emerson, a former theorist suggests that SET is “a frame of references within which many theories –some micro and some macro–can speak to one another, whether in argument or mutual support” (Emerson, 1976, p. 336). SET is based on how humans evaluate relationships by making rational calculations based on costs and rewards, designed to maximize individual profit. What makes the theory difficult to diagnose is defining reward. The theory consists of two economic formulas. The first formula: Rewards – Cost = Net Profit translates to: …show more content…
The shared portion refers to rewards associated within the relationship. For example; two friends go out to lunch once a week and share the responsibilities. If Jeri buys lunch in week 1, Corey is responsible for driving them to the restaurant. In week 2, the responsibilities reverse. This suggests both Jeri and Corey are rewarded, resulting in a positive net profit. A fundamental piece of scope is the net profit or outcome. How much does a relationship reflect the suggested views? As we just saw in the previous example, both Jeri and Corey have positive outcomes. This is because responsibilities are evenly shared. Scope sets out to explain the economic formula of the theory. In the same example, let’s say Corey’s car broke down one week; this would be a cost to Jeri as it would throw the schedule off balance, Thus leaving Jeri responsible to buying and driving. In this case, Jeri would have a negative outcome as the costs outweigh her rewards. This example describes and explains the scope of SET. The next measure to consider in evaluating theories is how practical or useful the theory is. As with all theories, utility plays an important role in the evaluation process. Utility simply refers to how useful of practical the theory is. In the case of SET, utility is very practical. The economic formula speaks for itself. How would a relationship flourish if costs outweigh rewards? It wouldn’t. It’s common sense. The utility of the theory is a closed, simplistic

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