Social exchange theory refers to the behaviours of a person in society due to the exchange process. Its purpose is to boost the benefits and lower the costs. This theory was proposed by George Homans a sociologist, according to this theory, people are concerned about the potential advantages and the harms of social relationships (Cropanzano et al., 2017). It refers to the social change and the stability negotiated during the process of communication between two parties. All the relations are formed on the philosophy of cost-benefits analysis and the comparison of the alternatives. This is an important theory and is widely used by experts of psychology, sociology, and economics. We make decisions based on the end results when we have different alternatives, and we have to decide which decision can give us more benefits not only in terms of profit, and rewards, but also can give us mental and social satisfaction. It is not easy to make a decision based on social exchange theory because it requires a person to evaluate various cost and benefits analyses.
On the other hand, symbolic interactionism is a broad framework of sociological theory. This perspective is based on the symbolic meaning which is developed in the process of social interaction. This theory analyzes society on the basis of addressing the subjective meanings which are imposed by people on events, behaviours, and objects. Subjective meanings are important because it believes that humans behave based on their beliefs, not only on objective truth. Symbolic interaction is based on our previous experiences and perceptions. So society is considered as socially developed through interpretations of people.
Within society, people interpret each other’s behaviours and actions, and through these interpretations, a social bond is formed.
Social exchange theory refers to the bond built among people or parties to achieve some benefits, while symbolic interaction also refers to the social bonds formed based on our interpretations. Social exchange theory refers to the benefits and losses of a decision and the outcomes of the decision. People depend on one another in society to fulfil their needs through the social exchange process. While symbolic interactionism is based on the perceptions of people regarding others, which are the basis of the relationship of people within the society. A negative perception regarding people consequently harms the bond among people, while the lower benefits of a decision can also impact the relationship of people with each other.
The Glass Castle is a story of a story about the family of Jeannette Walls who is facing many issues such as being short of food and cash, her family was struggling to resettle for this purpose they moved around the country. The family was initially working in different mining towns in the West Coast. Due to this profession, they moved from town to town and they are facing many challenges (Walls, 2017). For instance, one parent developed a drinking problem and the other family members, a severe drinking problem developed many psychological problems in their parents. The drinking habit has made the family more abusive and easily agitated. Communication is the second hurdle faced by the family and leads to the social exchange theory and symbolic interactionism because people have developed negative beliefs about the Jeneatte Walls family and they are least considered by the people to make social relationships with them. This story allows the readers to analyze what Walls suffered as a little girl who was facing many social issues such as homelessness, sexual abuse, neglect, alcohol abuse, and unsanitary problems (The Glass Castle, 2019). In this memoir, we can see a glimpse of how Walls opted to educate their children and show them the better side of the hardships. Walls was facing a difficult time from childhood, and she wanted to improve her life to get social acceptance in society. For this purpose, she left her family and move to New York along with her sister, where they work hard to improve their lifestyle. They had tough times in their lives, and finally, she succeeded to make her lifestyle better. Her mother wanted her to tell the truth about her past and not hide it from society. While she was reluctant because of symbolic interactionism, she wanted to achieve a better position in society. Jannette is the central role of this story, she was a strong girl with a dream to improve her lifestyle, she escaped from abuse, poverty, and ignorance, and achieve a better lifestyle.
The Glass Castle. (2019). Google Books. Retrieved 22 September 2019, from https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=BTMknk-qvacC
Walls, J. (2017). The glass castle: A memoir. Simon and Schuster.
Cropanzano, R., Anthony, E. L., Daniels, S. R., & Hall, A. V. (2017). Social exchange theory: A critical review with theoretical remedies. Academy of Management Annals, 11(1), 479-516.