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:
- The division of labour in society takes the form of the interaction among heterogeneous specialised positions, we call roles.
- 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.
- Roles are occupied by individuals, who are called actors.
- 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.
- Changed conditions can render a social role outdated or illegitimate, in which case social pressures are likely to lead to role change.
- The anticipation of rewards and punishments, as well as the satisfaction of behaving prosocially, account for why agents conform to role requirements.
Famous quotes containing the word role:
“When things turn out pretty much as expected, parents give little thought to how much they have influenced the outcome. When things dont turn out as expected, parents give a great deal of thought to the role they play.”
—Arlene Harder (20th century)
“Whatever were doing, whoever we are, it isnt enough. . . . Little wonder we have trouble finding role models to guide us through these shoals. No one less than God Herself could be all the things wed like to be to all the people wed like to feel approval from.”
—Melinda M. Marshall (20th century)
“American feminists have generally stressed the ways in which men and women should be equal and have therefore tried to put aside differences.... Social feminists [in Europe] ... believe that men and society at large should provide systematic support to women in recognition of their dual role as mothers and workers.”
—Sylvia Ann Hewitt (20th century)