Who is Peter Blau?

peter blau


Peter Blau (February 7, 1918 – March 12, 2002) was born in Vienna, Austria.  He migrated to America in 1939.He was an American sociologist and a leading figure. He made a  vital contribution of the theory of bureaucracy. Through his sociological writings he hoped that society will realize the extent of fairness and equality.

Exchange Theory





The theory of Social Exchange was Blau’s contribution to social theory.  The exchange theory can be broken down in simpler terms as the explanation of the interaction and relationships between people. Blau thought that people valued the social interactions relationships that they have with others. He believed that people enter relationships  needing something from someone in return(i.e: rewards, money, food).

In the textbook Sociological Theory In The Contemporary Era  social behavior is broken down into concepts ” Social behavior is is guided by the rational calculation of an exchange of rewards and costs. Much like our economic calculations through which we determine whether the value ( reward) of a good is worth its price ( cost), so in our social interactions we decide to enter into or terminate a relationship ( exchange) with another.” ( 180)


Give and Take Gold Scale Balance Sharing Generous Cooperation

In today’s society we cant just take things from people and use them for our benefit that would defeat the purpose of  “social exchange”. When forming relationships.  If the relation is one sided then the process of power comes to play.  If indeed one person is able to supply more than the others they will become dependents. ” If the others are unable to receive the benefits from another source and if they are unable to offer rewards to the individual, they become dependents on the individual.” (197)



An example that goes into depth of what Blau thought about when exercising the inequality of power is parenting. As a parent you are constantly worried about the well being of your child(ren). You want whats best for them and try to keep their best interests at heart. Now with some aspects of parent and child relationships the parents will come of with a system to teach the child responsibility as well as routine tasks. Now the social rewards and costs or give and take system come in hand. A parent may want something done like taking out the trash or doing dishes and if those tasks are done then the child may receive a reward or allowance. When I was growing up if I wanted something it wasn’t just handed to be just because. I had a chore system. If I did not complete tasks I could not go thus giving the parent the upper hand.  But to the child that doesn’t seem “fair”. But as a parent you expect or assume that your child must follow and comply to set rules that is set and adjusted as the child advances and grows.

reward chart


Works cited

Appelrouth, S. and Edles, L. (2016). Sociological theory in the contemporary era. 3rd ed. Los Angeles: Jeff Lasser.

“Read ‘Biographical Memoirs: Volume 85’ at NAP.edu.” National Academies Press: OpenBook, http://www.nap.edu/read/11172/chapter/3#21.

“Social Exchange Theory.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_exchange_theory.

Thompson, CH. “Weber’s Definition of Power.” Sociologytwynham.com, 1 May 2018, sociologytwynham.com/2013/06/04/webers-definition-of-power/.

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