role (social role)

(noun) A set of socially defined attributes and expectations that determine appropriate behaviors for an individual or group often based on their status in relation to other people or groups.

Example: A person in a parental role is expected to feed and protect their child from harm.

Audio Pronunciation: (role)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: roles
  • The terms role and social role are used interchangeably in a sociological context.
  • An individual simultaneously occupies multiple roles.
  • Roles are complementary, dynamic, and relational.
  • The distinction between a role and status is a role is what you “do” and a status is what you “are.” Being provider for a child is a role, being a parent is a status.
  • Role used in a sentence: Students need to take an active role in their education.

Related Quotations:

  • “Sociologists have taken the notion of role from the theater. Actors perform their roles in accordance with a script (analogous to culture), what the other actors say and do, and the reactions of the audience. But the theater analogy has its weaknesses. Unlike actors, we are seldom conscious of ‘acting’ according to a script as we go about our daily activities. and in life we must do a great deal of improvising, continually testing and changing our actions in accordance with the behavior of other people” (Hughes and Kroehler 2008:58-59).

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 

 


References

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2008. Sociology: The Core. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

 

Works Consulted

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Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

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How to Cite the Definition of Role

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “role.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 16, 2018 (https://sociologydictionary.org/role/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

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

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

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “role.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 16, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/role/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“role.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/role/>.