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role distancing (social role distancing)

Definition of Role Distancing

(noun) When an individual intentionally promotes a lack of attachment and commitment to a role or does not fully engage in a role’s performance.

Examples of Role Distancing

  • When an employee must fire fellow employees and says “I am just doing my job.”
  • A server in a restaurant will remind customers that they are not only a server but also an artist or student.

Role Distancing Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: role dis·tanc·ing

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /rOHl dIs-tuhn-sing/
  • British English – /rOHl dIs-tuhn-sing/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /roʊl ˈdɪstənsɪŋ/
  • British English – /rəʊl ˈdɪstənsɪŋ/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: role distancings
  • The terms “role distancing” and “social role distancing” are used interchangeably in a sociological context.
  • Role distancing decreases role strain.
  • A type of impression management.
  • Variant spelling: role-distancing

Related Quotation

  • People use distancing techniques when they do not want others to take them as the ‘self’ implied in a particular role, especially if they think the role is ‘beneath them'” (Kendall 2006:119).

Related Video

Additional Information

Related Terms


Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Works Consulted

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cite the Definition of Role Distancing

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “role distancing.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 24, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/role-distancing/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

role distancing. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/role-distancing/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “role distancing.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/role-distancing/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“role distancing.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 24 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/role-distancing/>.