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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
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 ?
(I think the strong, somewhat bad boy roles are the ones where you shine more.)
Currently in her 40s, graceful and close to two decade old in the ever busy Nigerian film industry, the actress made a name for herself by featuring in an array of roles over the years.
Previous translations of the Role Checklist into French [23] and Brazilian Portuguese [24] have both demonstrated good validity and reliability when used in their respective cultures.
Since last few years, Sartaj Aziz said, the role of women have been increased in different sectors.
With the 2013 cohort, only Part 1 of the Role Checklist was used in the data collection, whereas Part 1 and Part 2 were used with the 2014 cohort.
The role of a senator is to negotiate a good deal for the planet they represent.
and Beehr, Tang and Chang (2010) define role ambiguity as "lack of specificity and predictability for an employee's job or role functions and responsibility" (p.870).
Atom Role: r denotes atom role, every atom role should be corresponding to specific permission, and their permission is not overlapping.
A role occupant encounters problems, constraints, deficiencies or conflicts in some form or the other during the course of his/her role performance.
Reflecting the often-strained relations between the two countries on such issues as border security, Afghans were as likely to say Pakistan's current role in Afghanistan is supporting the Taliban leadership (33%) as they were to say its current role is reconstruction (30%).
The findings of this study indicated that inter-role distance and role erosion were found to be dominant contributors of role stress whereas role ambiguity and personal inadequacy were the least dominant contributors of role stress in all the three job categories.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Javier Bardem, for his role as Anton Chigurhin in No Country For Old Men.