Role distancing is a concept from dramaturgical model. The act of presenting your 'self' as being removed or at a distance from the role you are being required to play. For example, by keeping your eyes open when asked to pray or say grace, you communicate to the group by role distancing, that you are making no commitment to the role.
Role Distancing and Role Conflict - Unlike a stage play, we do not define roles. We negotiate social roles.
Role Distancing: When an individual disagrees with the expectations associated with a particular role, the individual may try to de-emphasize the importance of that role. Erving Goffman calls this role distancing.
For example, the actor may only play the role in a tongue and cheek fashion. Role distancing is the act of separating oneself from the role.
Role Conflict: Some roles that have to be played contradict other important roles. Here the individual does not know what is expected. We call this "role conflict."
Role distancing: Differentiating the role of the elderly from the person. Elderly participants in an extended care class at a senior citizen's center were observed to determine if some of them could continually distance themselves from the client role. Although earlier research suggests that people can use role distancing techniques to disassociate themselves successfully from occasionally played roles or certain aspects of a role, it is unclear whether or how people successfully disassociate themselves continually from enacted roles. Using a symbolic interactionist's definition of role, this paper attempts to 1) classify the circumstances which give rise to both occasional and continual role distancing; 2) specify the conditions under which disassociation from continually enacted roles may be successful; and 3) suggest the relevance of the data to studies on low-status occupations, deviance, and role theory. Journal Qualitative Sociology, Issue Volume 7, Number 3 / September, 1984 - Marnie L. Sayles, Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii-Hilo, 96720 Hilo, Hawaii
Selection, socialization, and mutual adaption: Resolving discrepancies
between people and work - Norbert Semmer, University of Bern, Switzerland, Urs
Schallberger, University of Zurich, Switzerland