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Two Approaches to Social Structure: Exchange Theory and Network Analysis

K. S. Cook and J. M. Whitmeyer
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 18 (1992), pp. 109-127
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2083448
Page Count: 19
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Two Approaches to Social Structure: Exchange Theory and Network Analysis
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Abstract

Much convergence exists between exchange theory and network approaches to social structure. Starting with the work of Emerson, exchange theory increasingly has considered social structure explicitly, as both product and constraint. Exchange theory and network analysis both conceptualize social structure as a configuration of social relations and positions, i.e. as a set of actors diversely linked into networks. Exchange theory and most work in network analysis are based on similar conceptions of the actor. Where exchange theory and network analysis differ is in their view of the links between positions. Exchange theory stresses the exchange aspects of all ties and contends that the appropriate network in any analysis is one that contains all relevant exchange relations. Network analysis tends to be more catholic about the nature of the links.

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