Social Exchange and the Maintenance of Order in Status-Stratifed Systems

Shane R. Thye, Edward J. Lawler, Jeongkoo Yoon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The question of how social order is maintained given stratification is as old as sociology itself. This chapter deals with the general question of whether and how social-exchange processes generate order and stability in the context of social stratification. It examines the role of social exchange in the construction of microorder within status-differentiated relations. A serendipitous finding from a recent experiment is used as a stimulus for theorizing an important feature of this larger problem of order. The finding is that, in an experiment where African-American females negotiated with white males, the white males received much larger payoffs than the African-American females. Yet, despite substantial power and profit differentiation advantaging white males, both individuals reported positive feelings to the same degree, which contradicts most research on emotional responses to power. These similar emotional responses, in the context of substantial payoff inequalities, are due to parallel, joint effects of status processes that create and legitimate initial profit differences and exchange processes that make salient a relationship between the actors during repeated exchange. This explanation integrates notions of status value, referential structure, and legitimacy from status theories with notions of relational cohesion.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Structure and Emotion
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Pages37-63
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780123740953
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

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