This article demonstrates the utility of the concept of exchange rules for understanding welfare worker agency in the mediation of workplace ideologies and behaviors. The exchange rules of complementarity, reciprocity, and beneficence are applied to the issues of service worker burnout, worker-client interactions, and labor issues to illustrate their conceptual and practical power. This analysis from an interactionist perspective complements the macro-level observations of the fundamental contradictions within the social welfare enterprise. It also suggests avenues for the mediation and alleviation of certain workplace dilemmas.

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