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Richard Marc Emerson (1926–1982) is best known as a sociological theorist of the twentieth century for his work on power. His primary contributions to social theory derive from his work on power-dependence relations and social exchange. In the 1960s, together with George C. Homans and Peter M. Blau, he developed a sociological version of exchange theory that became one of the dominant modes of theorizing about social relations and social structure in the social sciences. Emerson's most highly cited paper is his article on power-dependence relations published in the American Sociological Review (Emerson 1962). This article became a citation classic in 1981 just prior to his premature death.

Emerson completed his undergraduate degree with a major in sociology at the University of Utah, where he had ...

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