Resource variation and the development of cohesion in exchange networks

David R. Schaefer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Social exchange theories have identified social structural factors and interaction processes that build cohesion through the everyday exchange of valued resources. However, the types of resources considered in previous research do not reflect the properties of many commonly exchanged resources, namely information, social support, and material goods. In this article, I identify two resource dimensions that underlie and affect exchange: (1) duplicability, that is, whether a resource's provider retains control of the resource after exchange and (2) transferability, that is, whether a resource's recipient can exchange the resource in another relation. I present a causal model to explain how these dimensions affect cohesion through the mediating effects of structural power, exchange frequency, and uncertainty. Notably, resource variation alters the source of structural power, making it necessary to specify when different power mechanisms will operate and their disparate effects on the other mediating factors. A laboratory experiment provides support for the causal model. Resource characteristics fundamentally shape both the exchange process and the outcomes actors experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-572
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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