Role

A role (from the French rôle, and sometimes so spelt in English) or social role is a set of connected behaviours, rights and obligations as conceptualised by actors in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position. It is vital to both functionalist and interactionist understandings of society. Social role posits the following about social behaviour:

  1. The division of labour in society takes the form of the interaction among heterogeneous specialised positions, we call roles.
  2. Social roles included appropriate and permitted forms of behaviour, guided by social norms, which are commonly known and hence determine the expectations for appropriate behaviour in these roles.
  3. Roles are occupied by individuals, who are called actors.
  4. When individuals approve of a social role (i.e., they consider the role legitimate and constructive), they will incur costs to conform to role norms, and will also incur costs to punish those who violate role norms.
  5. Changed conditions can render a social role outdated or illegitimate, in which case social pressures are likely to lead to role change.
  6. The anticipation of rewards and punishments, as well as the satisfaction of behaving prosocially, account for why agents conform to role requirements.

Read more about RoleDeterminants and Characteristics of Social Role, Role Theory, Role Conflict and Role Confusion, Role Enhancement, Documenting Roles

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Famous quotes containing the word role:

    All of the assumptions once made about a parent’s role have been undercut by the specialists. The psychiatric specialists, the psychological specialists, the educational specialists, all have mystified child development. They have fostered the idea that understanding children and promoting their intellectual well-being is too complex for mothers and requires the intervention of experts.
    Elaine Heffner (20th century)

    Mental health data from the 1950’s on middle-aged women showed them to be a particularly distressed group, vulnerable to depression and feelings of uselessness. This isn’t surprising. If society tells you that your main role is to be attractive to men and you are getting crow’s feet, and to be a mother to children and yours are leaving home, no wonder you are distressed.
    Grace Baruch (20th century)

    His role was as the gentle teacher, the logical, compassionate, caring and articulate teacher, who inspired you so that you wanted to please him more than life itself.
    Carol Lawrence, U.S. singer, star of West Side Story. Conversations About Bernstein, p. 172, ed. William Westbrook Burton, Oxford University Press (1995)