The major difference between social and economic exchange is the nature of the exchange between parties.Neoclassic economic theory views the actor as dealing not with another actor but with a market and environmental parameters, such as market price.It is also used quite frequently in the business world to imply a two-sided, mutually contingent and rewarding process involving transactions or simply exchange.
The theory has roots in economics, psychology and sociology.
Social exchange theory features many of the main assumptions found in rational choice theory and structuralism.
Social exchange theory is a social psychological and sociological perspective that explains social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties.
Social exchange theory posits that human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives.
Lévi-Strauss is recognized for contributing to the emergence of this theoretical perspective from his work on anthropology focused on systems of generalized exchange, such as kinship systems and gift exchange.
Peter Blau focused his early writings on social exchange theory more towards the economic and utilitarian perspective, whereas Homans focused on reinforcement principles which presuppose individuals base their next social move on past experiences.Blau stated that once this concept is understood, it is possible to observe social exchanges everywhere, not only in market relations, but also in other social relations like friendship.Social exchange process brings satisfaction when people receive fair returns for their expenditures.Blau's utilitarian focus encouraged the theorist to look forward, as in what they anticipated the reward would be in regards to their next social interaction.Richard Emerson's early work on the theory intertwined with both Homans and Blau's ideas.On the contrary, a negative number indicates a negative relationship.