If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:09

Video transcript

Voiceover: Alright. Here is part two of our social theories overview. I'll quickly sum up feminist theory and rational exchange theories, and you can be on your way. Feminist theory is a macro level, or a big world perspective on society. It focuses on the gender inequalities inherent to patriarchal capitalist societies. In patriarchal societies, men occupy the governing positions, both in the families and in the community at large. Women are marginalized, objectified, oppressed, subordinated and discriminated against. Though, it isn't always apparent. Both women and men are often forced into socially acceptable gender-based roles. The difference is that men are not subjugated because of their categorizations. Feminist theory can focus on the effects of socially constructed gender differences, like how women's experience and social position in social situations differs from mens'. And the different values associated with femininity and masculinity. It can also focus on gender inequalities, where women’s subordination is viewed as an inherent feature of society, because of the way institutions are structured. There’s also gender oppression, where women are not only viewed as unequal to men, but they are actually oppressed and even abused because of it. And structural oppression that views women's subordination as a result of capitalism, patriarchy and racism. Feminist theory does not attempt to replace men at the top of the social ladder, but rather to shed light on the gender inequalities ingrained in our society, in the hopes of achieving equality. Rational choice theory basically states that people always take rational actions, weighing the costs and benefits of each action so that the outcome benefits them the most. A rational choice is part of a pattern of choices that are consistent. Rational choice theory makes three main assumptions. One, completeness, that all actions can be ranked. Two, transitively, that if A is preferable to B, and B is preferable to C, that A is also preferable to C. And three, independence of irrelevant alternatives. That if an additional choice is available, it won't change the relative ranking of the previous choices. If I suddenly have option X, B isn't abruptly better than A. All of this adds up to explain how people choose the best possible option for themselves out of the available selections. Exchange theory is the application of rational choice theory to social interaction. It is used to study family relationships, work relationships, partner selection, parenting and many other interpersonal interactions. There are many assumptions associated with exchange theory, but basically they state that people behave with the goal of maximizing their own rewards while minimizing the punishments. That people have the information they need to make rational choices, within social norms. That self-interest and interdependence guide human interactions. And, that human relationships are formed, because people analyze their interactions using cost-benefit analysis. And along with all that, you have to consider that the standards of what is a reward and what is a punishment, change over time. And, are different from person to person. Society is made of these interactions between people who will behave according to a subjective analysis of rewards and punishments of each possible interaction. There are criticisms of rational choice theory and exchange theory. The first I thought of was, if people actually make rational choice, I certainly don't always, critics ask why anyone would do something to benefit someone else more than themselves. Why would someone follow social norm that were not in their own self-interest? And can you really explain every social structure through the interactions of individuals? They also criticize the reduction of human interactions through a rational process. And the linearization of forming relationships, when it often feels more like a carnival ride of twists and backs and jumps. And, there we have it. That's feminist theory and rational exchange theories. Pretty straightforward, right?