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Encyclopedia of Social Theory

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Encyclopedia of Social Theory

George Ritzer

Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412952552 | Print ISBN: 9780761926115 | Online ISBN: 9781412952552 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Homans, George

Linda D. Molm

American social theorist of the twentieth century, George Homans (1910–1989) was the founder of behavioral sociology, the first and arguably the most prominent sociological exchange theorist, and the architect of a highly controversial approach to theory construction in sociology. Homans was the first sociologist to outline the sociological implications of psychologists’work on learning or behavioral theory, particularly the operant conditioning paradigm of B. F. Skinner. These psychological principles of behavior formed the foundation of his theory of social exchange, which was most fully explicated in Social Behavior: Its Elementary Forms ([1961] 1974). A strong methodological individualist who believed that explanations of all social phenomena could be derived from axioms about the behavior of individuals, Homans promoted his conception of theory in a large number of works, including “Contemporary Theory in Sociology” (1964b), “Bringing Men Back In” (1964a), and The Nature of Social Science (1967). In addition to his theoretical contributions, ...

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