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Theories of Social Structure

(Social) Exchange Theory

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Summary

Social Exchange Theory, also referred to as Exchange theory or Rational Choice theory, is a sociological theory that focuses on interpersonal interactions. According to Exchange theory, a person is motivated by self-interest in their interpersonal interactions. When a person engages in a social interaction, they operate on a selfish cost-benefit analysis, seeking to maximize personal gain while minimizing personal loss. According to this theory, even seemingly altruistic behavior comes from a selfish cost-benefit analysis.

Key Points

  • (Social) Exchange Theory
    • Also known as Rational Choice Theory
    • Society constructed through interactions, in which people act according to selfish cost-benefit
      • People attempt to maximize gain and minimize cost in all situations