Definition of Expressive Role
(noun) A passive nurturer, providing emotional support in the private sphere, being responsible for the well-being of family members, and the socialization of children.
Examples of Expressive Role
- Women performing most caring work in the home, while men work outside the home.
- Harriet Nelson on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
- Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners
- June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver
Etymology of Expressive Role
- Term coined by Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) and Robert Freed Bales (1916–2004) in Family Socialization and Interaction Process (1955), which stated two basic roles must be performed in any group: instrumental roles and expressive roles.
Expressive Role Pronunciation
Syllabification: ex·pres·sive role
- American English – /ik-sprEs-iv rOHl/
- British English – /ik-sprE-siv rOHl/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ɪkˈsprɛsɪv roʊl/
- British English – /ɪksˈprɛsɪv rəʊl/
- Plural: expressive roles
- Parsons and Bales used functionalist theory to explain family dynamics. They contended that some roles were more suited to one gender over the other and societies are more stable when roles are performed by the appropriate gender. This separation ensured a balanced and coordinated family life, reducing conflict while providing stability.
- Expressive roles and instrumental roles are complementary, one can only exist in reference to the other. However, society typically reward instrumental roles with more power, prestige, and wealth. Expressive roles have a tendency to be dismissed as instinctive and unskilled, the “natural” work for women, who typically perform this role. This differentiation of roles, supports patriarchal societies as men are rewarded more than women.
- Traditional expressive roles and instrumental roles are shifting as industrialized societies move more towards service sector work and expectations on women and men change.
- Family and Kinship Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Role Theory Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “expressive” and “role” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.
Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).
Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).
Cite the Definition of Expressive Role
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2015. “expressive role.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/expressive-role/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
expressive role. (2015). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/expressive-role/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2015. “expressive role.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/expressive-role/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“expressive role.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/expressive-role/>.