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Social Exchange and Symbolic Interaction Perspectives: Exploring Points of Convergence in Research on Family and Aging

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
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Symbolic interaction (SI) and social exchange are two popular theoretical approaches which have guided research on family interactions. In any one study, these two perspectives are almost always employed independently of each other. The present study recognizes that either theory can be used to investigate social support, but finds that, when used alone, their explanatory power is more tenuous. Because of definitional ambiguity, SI, for example, is weak on quantitative measurement but strong on qualitative analysis. Social exchange is more rational, and its assumptions can be tested more empirically. This paper attempts to discuss a convergence thesis and argues that a more comprehensive theoretical framework is made possible.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Kent State University Salem campus, Salem, Ohio 44460-9412, U.S.A.


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