Social Exchange Theory

After Pam and Lily spoke last night about how philosophy related to poetry, it made me think about how the sociology class I’m in now, and how it relates to our class/poetry in general.

Recently, in  Sociology of the Individual and Society with Professor Eisenberg, we’ve been learning about Social Exchange Theory. This theory states that we interact with others when we’re looking to fulfill some sort of personal need, because, “Much of what we value and need in life (e.g., food, companionship, approval, status, and information) can only be obtained from others” (taken from page 210 in Sociological Perspectives on Social Psychology). 

So what is it that we get from interacting through poetry,  through crafting images like we’ve been trying to do?

One of the reasons I write poetry is to capture a feeling that I don’t otherwise know how to express, and to share that feeling with someone. The first thing I want to do after writing a poem I’m proud of is read it to someone.  For me, this is because I have a lot to gain from an interaction like this: knowing that I’m not the only one who’s had that feeling, the pride from gaining praise on my work, etc. But what else do we gain from sharing our poems?

I always ask so many questions in my blog posts (so of course this one is no different) and most of them are for myself–things I’m trying to work out on or that I’ve been mulling over, but I am curious what all of you are thinking, too: it’s often discussed why we write, but not why do we share that writing?  Do you agree with the social exchange theory’s view of it?

One Reply to “Social Exchange Theory”

  1. Kallie,
    For me, it’s really hard to share my poetry. Part of the reason for that is because I began writing as a way to get over things, and the page was the only place where I felt I wouldn’t be judged about what I was going through. To this day, I mostly only share poems in workshop and on a blog I keep to myself. But why do I keep a blog? Why do I want to eventually share my poems one day? I think it has to do with influence. Of course, gratification is a huge part of it, and I think any one who says otherwise hasn’t fully recognized what constitutes as gratification. But influence is huge for me. And in my poetry I want to create a home for someone. It’s not that I want praise from the person, but I want them to feel like someone read their mind, and like they are therefore less alone inside of it. In some ways, this idea coincides with the social exchange theory, but I can’t put into words how it goes much deeper than that. It unites us in a purer way than most things.

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