Sociology Index


Reflexive Role-Taking, Role Strain, Role Distancing

Sociological role theory includes categories of social roles like cultural roles and gender roles. Situation-specific roles develop ad hoc in a given social situation.

According to role theory, role conflict occurs when a person is expected to simultaneously act out multiple roles that carry contradictory expectations. The Gender Role Theory suggests that women's lesser involvement in crime can be attributed to their socialization into traditional roles within the family and in society.

According to role theory, people take distinct positions in groups they form. These positions are roles, with a set of functions that are molded by the expectations of others. Under role theory these expectations become norms when enough people feel comfortable in providing punishments and rewards for the expected behavior. People conform to their roles anticipating rewards and punishments inspire this conformity.

In role theory behavior is influenced by the norms which determine a social situation, internal and external expectations are connected to a social role and social sanctions and rewards are used to influence role behaviour.

Revisiting Role Theory: A Sociocognitive Perspective - Danna-Lynch, Karen.
Presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Abstract: This paper links role theory with research on social cognition. In this way, I revisit the old Parsonian problem of multiple orientations to action, basing it on a more up to date psychology. By treating the cognitive and behavioral aspects of role performance as equally weighted realms of experience, I present a model to explore the ways social actors “balance”, “overlap”, and “switch” between multiple roles. Four ideal-typical states of “role-being” are identified: single focus, behavioral prevalence, cognitive prevalence, and multi-focus. Proposed are three separate strategies, migration, emigration, and relocation, as ways that actors travel among states of role being. This approach invites full consideration into the largely unexplored conditions of simultaneous salience and role switching, setting the stage for future research into sociocognitive role playing dynamics.

Students First Mentoring Project: Using Role-theory to Improve Low-income, First Generation Student Retention - Collier, Peter. and Morgan, David. - Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Abstract: The Students First Mentoring Program (SFMP) is a U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE)-funded intervention to improve retention of low-income, first-generation students at Portland State University. Combining best practices from already established programs such as Student Support Services and Educational Opportunity Program with theoretical concepts from role theory, this program offers a wide range of support services for first-generation college students designed to make the shift to college life less difficult and, in the process, improve student retention rates. In this paper we present a brief over-view of the SFMP, examine the literature on student retention and role mastery, present a conceptual model – the two path model of student academic performance at college, and discuss three specific program elements that are drawn from role theory

Revisiting Role Theory: Roles and the Problem of the Self
Stanley Raffel
Sociological Research Online
Abstract: This paper looks at some of the major texts in the history of role theory. The question that is asked is whether any of these works have been able to theorize the self adequately. It is suggested that neither Talcott Parsons nor Robert King Merton has any place for the self in their respective theories. While Goffman does make a space for the self, it is only a negative space. Even ethnomethodological theory cannot imagine a role player capable of self-expression. It is argued that a solution to the problem of how to conceive of self and role can be developed from some ideas present in the work of the philosopher Lawrence Blum. The concept of self as identity that can be extracted from his work can allow social theory to imagine actors who are simultaneously expressing their selves and fulfilling their roles. Affinities between this idea and some key concepts in theories of both (Alan) Blum and Peter McHugh and Charles Taylor are suggested.

Using role theory in monitoring web group learning systems
Gwo-Dong Chen Chin-Yeh Wang Kuo-Liang Ou Baw-Jhiune Liu
Inst. of Comput. Sci. & Inf. Eng., Nat. Central Univ., Chung-li, Taiwan;
Abstract: Role theory has been proposed to explain group teamwork. Thus, it may also be valid to explain group learning performance. However, teachers in both conventional classrooms and web learning systems find it difficult to figure out what role a student played in a group and what relationship exists between roles and group performance. In a web learning system, interactions among group members can be recorded in a database. Computer tools can be developed to do the tasks for teachers. In this paper we develop a tool to capture the roles that a student plays in her/his learning group. Then, tools using machine learning techniques are built to find the relationship between existence of roles and group performance. A tool was then built to predict the group performance based on the relationship captured. An experimental result is shown that demonstrates that role theory is effective to predict group performance.

A Review of Educational Role Theory: A Teaching Guide for Administrative Theory.
Clouse, R. Wilburn
Abstract: This document examines role theory limited to the major studies related to educational administrators. The nature and history of role theory are reviewed and three theoretical approaches to the study of role theory are described: (1) role conflict resolution theory; (2) role theory related to social systems theory; and (3) the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation Theory of interpersonal behavior. Three empirical role theory studies related to educational administration are the School Board Executive Studies Program, the National Principalship Study, and the Role Conflict Resolution Behavior Study of High School Principals. Finally, conclusions are drawn about the methods used in role theory studies.