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Power and Social Exchange*

  • David A. Baldwin (a1)

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.

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An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., September, 1977. The author would like to thank the following colleagues who provided helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper: Harry Eckstein, Henry Ehrmann, Raymond Hall, David Kipnis, Roger Masters, Felix Oppenheim, Melvin Snyder, and Denis Sullivan.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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