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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Origins of social exchange Lucas, Robert Gillmor


The objective of this thesis was to identify and critically analyze the existing theoretical origins of social exchange. The identification and analysis of theoretically proposed origins of exchange was based on a thorough review of the works of the better known social exchange theorists. In the course of the review and analysis, it was discovered that social exchange theory consists of two distinguishable bodies of literature. Further, each of the two bodies of literature proceeds from its own assumptions concerning the nature and extent of social exchange activity, including the origins of such activity. Critical analysis revealed the possibility of the construction of a unified, more parsimonious conception of the origins of social exchange. The concept of social solidarity and its role as both causal agent and social result of exchange, processes provided the basis for a new explanation of the origins of social exchange. The general conclusions of the thesis are four. First, two models of social exchange exist in the literature. They are the generalized model and restricted model. Second, the origins of exchange assumed by each model differ. The generalized model posits the functional requirements of the group for integration and survival as origins. The restricted model posits psychological needs and/or rational economic motives as origins. Third, the generalized exchange model is capable of subsuming the restricted exchange model, at least insofar as origins of exchange are concerned. Fourth, it is concluded that both the restricted and generalized exchange models are linked in one crucial way. Both models implicitly deal with the creation of social solidarity, and the way in which the models are related through the concept of social solidarity is explained.

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