Generalized Exchange

Bearman, Peter Shawn

This article focuses on identifying the conditions under which social solidarity emerges from exchange relations. The empirical focus is on the observed behaviors of persons whose exchanges induce a stable social order. The setting (Groote Eylandt, an island off Australia), the persons (Aborigines), the language in which exchange is conducted (kinship), the relevant theoretical literature (classificatory kinship theory), and the values exchanged (women) are exotic for most sociologists. But many of the issues involved—the relationship between normative orders governing action and actual behaviors, the identification of micromechanisms that yield stable emergent structures, and the relationship between solidarity, exchange, and inequality—are central to problems we encounter in more familiar settings.


Also Published In

American Journal of Sociology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics
University of Chicago Press
Published Here
February 18, 2015