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, 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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


  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.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The hypothesis of a difference between high affective social support (2.03 [+ or -] 1.82) and low affective social support (0.88 [+ or -] 1.08) in relation to the number of people helping in the care, resulted significant (Student's t = 3.391; p = 0.002), hence, it may be stated that people who are not helped in the caregiver role or are only helped by one person present low affective social support; for social support to be perceived as high, they need to receive help from at least two people.
In conclusion, the findings provide subsidies for the refinement of diagnosis "Caregiver role strain" in family caregivers of people with chronic diseases.
However, Griffiths and Unger also found siblings were more likely to want to assume a greater future caregiver role and were more satisfied with permanency plans the more their spouses/partners felt the same as they did regarding permanency plans.
The higher the score, the better caregivers view their self-assessed level of health and their ability to continue in their caregiver role.
However, 1 deceased patient had 3 relatives (who had shared the caregiver role), leaving 8 bereaved caregivers included.
Relationship quality (containing eight study findings), as the first identified salient theme, highlighted the role that the relationship between the caregiver and care recipient plays in determining the experience of those in the caregiver role. For many, being in the caregiver role was seen as an opportunity to communicate and show their love and commitment (Hash, 2006; Muraco & Fredriksen-Goldsen, 2014).
The caregiver role. The caregiver role is assumed when persons assist in meeting the needs of individuals who are unable to care for themselves.
Reasons for not initiating permanency planning include: (a) belief by the caregiver that they would outlive their son or daughter, (b) "mutual dependencies" (Wood, 1993) where the caregiver role can be gratifying and the adult child may provide both material and emotional assistance to the caregiver, and (c) the realization that acceptable residential alternatives are limited (Wood, 1993).
Current literature provides evidence that caregivers are dissatisfied with the information, support, and skill preparation delivered in the acute phase of stroke, challenging their ability to successfully transition into the caregiver role (Garrett & Cowdell, 2005; O'Connell et al., 2003).