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The Norm of Reciprocity: A Preliminary Statement
Alvin W. Gouldner
American Sociological Review
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Apr., 1960), pp. 161-178
Published by: American Sociological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2092623
Page Count: 18
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Social systems, Functionalism, Conformity, Gratification, Social theories, Social interaction, Social structures, Mechanical systems, Cultural customs, Polemics
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The manner in which the concept of reciprocity is implicated in functional theory is explored, enabling a reanalysis of the concepts of "survival" and "exploitation." The need to distinguish between the concepts of complementarity and reciprocity is stressed. Distinctions are also drawn between (1) reciprocity as a pattern of mutually contingent exchange of gratifications, (2) the existential or folk belief in reciprocity, and (3) the generalized moral norm of reciprocity. Reciprocity as a moral norm is analyzed; it is hypothesized that it is one of the universal "principal components" of moral codes. As Westermarck states, "To requite a benefit, or to be grateful to him who bestows it, is probably everywhere, at least under certain circumstances, regarded as a duty. This is a subject which in the present connection calls for special consideration." Ways in which the norm of reciprocity is implicated in the maintenance of stable social systems are examined.
American Sociological Review © 1960 American Sociological Association