Power and Social Exchange

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This article examines the basic social science concepts of “power” and “social exchange” in order to determine the possibility and desirability of integrating them. It is argued that: (1) all exchange relationships can be described in terms of conventional power concepts without twisting the common-sense notions that underlie such concepts; (2) most–but not necessarily all–power relationships can be described in terms of exchange terminology; (3) there are some advantages to conceiving of power in this way; (4) recent social exchange theorists have neither illuminated nor recognized most of these advantages. After a preliminary examination of the concepts of “power” and “exchange,” the discussion focuses on the analytical and conceptual problems associated with volition, exchange media, asymmetry, sanctions, and authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1229-1242
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1978
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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