Exchange Theory

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

Social Exchange: Advances In Theory And Research


Even the most casual observation of human interaction enables one to discern patterns of sequential activity. We observe X approach Y and call out in a friendly manner; Y thereupon smiles and inquires into X’s health; X responds with a report on his physical well-being and inquires into Y’s recent skiing experiences, and so on. One may also observe a certain degree of regularity or repetition in these patterns. We may be struck by the frequency with which a warm greeting on X’s part precedes a friendly response on the part of Y, and that the same pattern can be located throughout society. It is, of course, just such sequential patterns that furnish the social theorist with the observation base undergirding his or her theoretical superstructure. Indeed the positivist—empiricist framework currently dominating the social sciences demands that one’s theory furnish an accurate map of the regularities residing within the social sphere.

Published By

Plenum Press


Kenneth J. Gergen, M. S. Greenberg, And R. H. Willis

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