Write a note on the Concept of Role.


An initial definition of a role is that it represents the way that someone is expected to behave in a particular social situation. Roles, therefore, are the parts we play in our relationships with others and this idea is similar to that of an actor playing a part in a play. Every group defines the expected behaviour for every member. Being a member of a group means having certain privileges as well as owning certain obligations.

Role refers to the obligations which an individual has towards his group. Ralph Linton developed the concept of role initially. Status is the position while role is the manner in which that position is supposed to be filled in. Thus role is the functional aspect of a status.

Role as a Dynamic Aspect of Status: A role is the dynamic or the behavioural aspect of status, Status is occupied, but roles are played. We may say that a status is an institutionalized role. It is a role that has become regularized, standardized and formalized in the society at large or in any of the specific associations of society.

Ralph Linton has referred to role as dynamic aspect of status; a role is the totality of all the cultural patterns associated with particular status. Any given role within a group tends to vary according to the individual who occupies the status, as well as the general membership composition of the group. But if the performance of a role deviates very much from the expected range of behaviour, the individual will be negatively sanctioned.

Each individual has many status positions within a society and therefore he performs a variety of roles. Since the unity of self requires a degree of value and behavioural integration and frequently even a hierarchy of role priorities (according to which is most central self), the particular combination of statuses a person has tends to influence the way he performs various roles. His performance will never exactly correspond with the expectations of others, nor will it meet all the expectation he may have of himself.

Refinement of the Concept of Role: Recent accounts of role have produced several refinements. Every role has a limited area of operation and the role has to be confined within that. For example, an officer has a role to play in the office but when he reaches his family, that role ceases. If the officer continues to perform that role in his family also, he shall not be able to carry on his work outside the limited field.

Tags: Ba Sociology

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