The reciprocity It is the exchange of goods, favors or services that takes place between people or organizations and that implies the mutual benefit of the parties.
Reciprocity is exercised as a restitution, compensation or refund. Respond to an action, favor or gesture with the same or similar one. For instance: María lends sugar to her neighbor Clara, who returns the gesture by giving her part of the cake she cooked.
This type of exchange is present in human relations and in commercial and political relations.
Reciprocity in human relationships
Reciprocity is one of the fundamental values in every human relationship. By working together, helping each other, or exchanging goods and services, people can achieve more than they would individually. This awakens in them a feeling of solidarity. Reciprocity keeps the mechanism of giving and receiving active: in it, the neighbor is considered and thanked for what is received.
In a reciprocal relationship, a person receives help, time, or resources, and then returns it with the same or another gesture. For instance: Juan agrees to take care of the neighbor’s dog on vacation. The neighbors take care of Juan’s dog when he falls ill.
This exchange is part of a social norm that is implicit, but is known to all members of a society or community. It may happen that in a given situation a reciprocal or equitable response is not obtained. For instance: Mariano lends Juan his guitar for a rehearsal; Juan breaks the strings, but doesn’t buy new ones.
Reciprocity in international relations
The exchange by reciprocity was one of the means of exchange between the first civilizations and is very frequent in current international relations.
Countries exercise the principle of reciprocity when they assume, together with another country or government, guidelines, duties and rights with the condition of obtaining reciprocal treatment. For instance: a State gives preferential treatment to immigrants from a neighboring country on the condition that it reduces rates and tariffs.
This principle involves sealing agreements, alliances, treaties and pacts with the endorsement of both parties. They may include: trade concessions or restrictions, visas, extraditions.
Examples of reciprocity
- Mariela has a birthday, invites her friends to her party and receives gifts and greetings in return.
- A friend visits another in their home and brings some flowers as a gift as a way of thanking the invitation.
- Matías lends his notebook to Juan, who has missed class, and he returns that favor with a lollipop.
- A girl lends her pencils in exchange for another boy lending her a drawing sheet.
- In one group, one child makes a picture, while another summarizes and another makes a model.
- One student explains literature and art to another, while the latter explains to the former French.
- The children do their homework on the scheduled time and, in return, the teacher places a score or concept note.
- Matías gets hurt, his friend stays by his side, even if he wants to go play, as a way of reciprocating the affection and friendship that exists between them.
- Gustavo lends the ball to his teammates in exchange for letting him be a forward for the whole game.
- Mirta buys Juana a toothpaste at the supermarket. Juana intends to pay Mirta more money than the toothpaste came out as a sign of gratitude.
- An employee makes a shift change so that another employee can attend the doctor. The second employee returns the favor by covering another day for the first employee.
- The Incas offered military protection and care in exchange for the labor of the tribes they subjected.
- When someone leaves a store and another person is about to enter, the first person holds the door for the second person to enter. The second person returns the favor by saying “thank you” or “thank you very much.”
- Paying taxes in exchange for security is a form of reciprocity.
- A travel agency raffles a stay to the Bahamas among its clients in exchange for them to fill out a survey.
- The boss treats his employees kindly as a form of reciprocity for their performance and effort.
- Martín receives an extra bonus at work as a reward for the effort put into daily work.
- Sonia attended a job interview and hopes that the recruiter will let her know if she has been chosen for the position.
- A supermarket delivers a plastic chair to those customers whose purchase exceeds a certain amount.
- When his mother is ill, the son takes care of her by giving back the upbringing that he has received from her.
- Marcelo cooks the noodles in exchange for his wife going to the supermarket to buy them.
- A man gives the seat to a pregnant woman and she thanks him very kindly.
- Jacinto lends his sister her house on the coast to spend the holidays, and she lends him her apartment in the center.
- A family gathers for lunch, the grandparents bring ice cream to share.
- A neighbor offers money to a boy to cut the grass in his garden.
- One sister lends the other a new dress in exchange for her loan of shoes.
- Consuelo waters her friend’s plants when he is on vacation in Brazil, he brings her a gift as a sign of gratitude.
- Julián’s father prepares dinner and Julián washes the dishes in return.
- A country receives immigrants from another country because those people will invest money and work in the country of arrival.
- Russia does not attack another US ally as long as the US does not attack any Russian ally.