Sociology Index


Diffuseness of roles and diffuseness of goals is a characteristic of relatively simple societies where people encounter each other in a variety of overlapping roles. Where there is diffuseness of roles, there is little occupational specialization and no clear separation of private and public spheres of life. People are continuously reminded of their extensive bonds with others. Diffuseness of roles is associated with Traditional Society and Specificity of roles is associated with Modern Society.

Diffuseness and Specificity

In a small town school, one may find diffuseness because the same friends will be meeting up and doing things together. In professional collages, one may find specificity. In a diffuseness culture, personal contact and agreement is perceived to be valuable and therefore preferred over a contract. Contracts are perceived to be an essential part of business procedure for specific cultures. In a specific culture, people commonly trust only the hard evidence such as a paper contract rather than a promise made by a person.

Australia is an example of a specific specificity while in Thailand is an example of a diffuseness. When dealing with Australian guests, it may be important to provide them with some solid evidence to confirm details of their vacation.

Talcott Parsons distinguished between underdeveloped and developed countries. According to his model, which is called Pattern variables:
Underdeveloped and Traditional countries are characterized by:
Ascription - family, ethnic, personal or political connections play a great role in promotion and in making one’s way through in the society in general
Diffuseness - different institutions, like military or religious ones play political roles.