Skip to main content

Homans, George C.

Homans, George C. (1910–89) An American social theorist, probably best known for his argument that theory should be based on a series of propositions about individual behaviour, which were to be derived from ‘covering laws’. For Homasn, the most general covering laws are found in behavioural psychology. In Social Behaviour: Its Elementary Forms (1964), Homans puts forward a set of propositions which form the basis of his exchange theory, which states that individual assessments of costs and benefits are the basis of such social phenomena as competition and cooperation, authority, and conformity. Exchange theory, with individuals rather than groups, institutions, or societies as its starting-point, and with its ultimate grounding in behavioural psychology, attracted considerable criticism from the start. However, several later theories, including rational-choice theory, have been strongly influenced by it. Besides his contributions to social theory, Homans maintained a lifelong interest in the study of small groups, industrial sociology, and historical sociology. He was President of the American Sociological Association in 1964. His other major publications include English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century (1941), The Human Group (1950), Sentiments and Activities (1962), Certainties and Doubts (1987), and his autobiography, Coming to my Senses (1984). See also BEHAVIOURISM; CAUSE; SUCCESS PROPOSITION.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Homans, George C.." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Homans, George C.." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/homans-george-c

"Homans, George C.." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved April 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/homans-george-c

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.