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May 2022

Piaget's sociology revisited

Journal/Book: New Idea Psychol. 2000; 18: the Boulevard Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford Ox5 1GB, England. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 261-275.

Abstract: This paper re-examines Piaget's account of social values and social exchange, and looks at some of the difficulties it presents. Although Piaget claims that his theory of social exchange forms the basis of his account of economic exchange, a closer examination shows that the model for Piaget's theory is rather the marginal utility theory of economics. This assumes that we attempt to maximise utility in our economic transactions with others. But as economic behaviour is also influenced by psychological and social factors, it is doubtful whether it forms a good model for describing economic let alone social behaviour. As social exchange theory takes reciprocity, the giving of like for like, as its basic principle, self-interest plays an important role in Piaget's theory and only ceases to do so on a normative rational level. It is argued that some forms of spontaneous behaviour cannot be described in terms of reciprocity. If this is the case, Piaget's attempt to formulate an all embracing scheme to cover our spontaneous, economic and normative activities, would appear to fail.

Note: Article Mays W, Manchester Metropolitan Univ, Dept Philosophy, Geoffrey Manton Bldg, Manchester M15 5LL, Lancs, ENGLAND

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