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Related to role: Role Conflict


, r?le
1. a part or character in a play, film, etc., to be played by an actor or actress
2. Psychol the part played by a person in a particular social setting, influenced by his expectation of what is appropriate


  1. any relatively standardized social position, involving specific rights and obligations which an individual is expected or encouraged to perform, e.g. parental role.
  2. ‘the dynamic aspect of STATUS’, where 'status’ refers to the position and ‘role’ to its performance (R. Linton, 1936); it is more usual, however, for the term ‘role’ to apply to both position and performance, with 'status’ also being used as an alternative term for position. Roles may be specific or diffuse, ascribed or achieved - see PATTERN VARIABLES. In SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM the term ‘role’ is used differently. In this perspective social identities and social action are analysed as the outcome of taking the role of the other’, rather than from adopting ready-made roles. Role-playing, a form of social training where people take part in group exercises in which they act out a range of social roles, has a similar basis. The expectation is that acting out social roles, including those with which one initially lacks sympathy, will bring greater social understanding.
In FUNCTIONALISM, the theory of role stresses the normative expectations attached to particular positions and the way in which roles are associated with INSTITUTIONS. The emphasis is on the acquisition and enacting of behaviour patterns determined by NORMS and rules. MERTON (1949) suggested the further notion of role-set, to refer to the range of role relationships associated with a given status. It is recognized that the individual is likely to encounter tensions (role conflict) in coping with the requirements of incompatible roles, e.g. the roles of worker and mother, or lecturer and researcher. The functional theory of role has been criticized, however, for sometimes implying a static, unchanging conception of social action.

The earlier, symbolic interactionist approach to ‘role’, associated with G. H. MEAD, contrasts with that of functionalism, in that for Mead ‘role-taking’ is mainly of interest as an essential process in the development of the SELF. Both adults and children establish conceptions of self by imagining themselves in others’ positions (see also LOOKING-GLASS SELF), but there is no conception of fixed roles in the way central to functionalism, and the continually ‘renegotiated’ character of social action is emphasized.

The writings of GOFFMAN provided other examples of role analysis, e.g. the concept of ROLE DISTANCE, where the performer of a role adopts a subjective detachment from the role.



(1) A personage in a drama or screenplay and the corresponding character embodied by an actor in a stage production, film, or radio play. A role may be comic, tragic, dramatic, or tragicomic, and principal or secondary. A walk-on is a role without spoken lines or one with lines amounting to two or three sentences. An incidental role is one occurring in a single episode of a production, for example, the Horn Player in Gorky’s Egor Bulychov and the Others. In the musical theater a role is the same as a part.

(2) The lines assigned to one of the characters in a play or film.

References in periodicals archive ?
Essentially, becoming an occupational therapy student is an expected role change that prepares one for adopting the role of therapist in the future.
Playing the role of a man in the armed forces should come naturally to Tom Cruise.
Middle role can have multiple levels, and every middle role can have multiple father roles and multiple child roles.
A role occupant encounters problems, constraints, deficiencies or conflicts in some form or the other during the course of his/her role performance.
The analysis of the data revealed that role erosion, personal inadequacy, resource inadequacy, and role stagnation were identified as dominant contributors of role stress in executives and supervisors.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Kevin Kline, for his role as Jacques in As You Like It.
He hopes one day to dance Apollo, a role never done by a black dancer in City Ballet.
As Ed Zander, CEO of Motorola, said when discussing the lifespan of the role, "After three or four years, my feeling is that you start to think more and more about the CEO decisions.
The investigators also reported a lack of understanding of group counseling in schools and the need for greater understanding of the leadership role the professional school counselor can play in advocating for all students.
Special attention is paid to the role of ARAMCO as a pro-Saudi lobby and to the occasional practice of hiring professional lobbyists as in Kuwait's contracting of the firm of Hill and Knowlton to disseminate Iraqi abuses during the invasion of Kuwait.
While the role and responsibilities vary from company to company, in general, a CAO is responsible for tax, financial planning, corporate accounting and reporting, compliance, accounting policies and procedures, audit preparation, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and monitoring and maintaining internal controls over the financial reporting function.
The career counseling techniques are life space map, life line, life-space genogram, life roles circles, life roles assessment, life role analysis, and goal map.