Role theory: what is our role in society?

Role theory: what is our role in society?

Social roles are the roles one plays in society ; in other words, they detail and represent what activities or behaviors are expected in a particular social environment. Who are the ones who define which tasks correspond to us? Are we assigning a role already done or are we building it ourselves? Let's solve these doubts in this article.

Roles are assigned in all groups. In a team, for example the role of defender, striker, winger or pivot; within the family, with the role of mother, father, brother; or in the work, with the role of director, secretary, trainee or assistant. The same person, depending on the context in which she is, can play different roles: that of trainee at work, son in the family and clown in the group of friends, for example.

The role is built and everyone adapts it to their own person. It may be that at the outset it is defined by what the other members of the group expect from my behavior, but only in broad outline, since each one afterwards will have to adapt these expectations and other requirements to their personal characteristics.

Role-related stressors

The problems associated with the role can come from various sources:

  • Ambiguity of the role: in this case, we have to adapt to a role in which we do not really know what we have to do. Our role is unclear, and we do not know what others expect from our behavior or our contribution to the group.
  • Role conflict: in this context, we may have to deal with two different types of problems. First, conflict in the same role, in other words, when the role does not fit me, I can not adapt to what I'm asked, that role goes beyond my abilities, that it does not not with my ideology, or that I do not feel comfortable adopting the behaviors it implies. The other problem will be the conflict between roles; for example, I am assigned to a group in two different roles, imagine trainee and student, or parent and employee at the same time, and this generates stress in me because I fail to fill both roles simultaneously .
  • Roles awarded: these are the problems deriving from having to adapt to an already determined role and from relying on little room for maneuver to build ours. For example, we can think of gender roles, behaviors already expected by the group for the simple fact of being a man or a woman.
  • Role overload: the behaviors that are expected when assuming a role require a lot of everyone: for the subject, overcoming his ability to adapt generates stress.
  • Poor roles: this problem arises in a context unlike the previous point, when the subject believes that he can give much more of himself but that his role does not allow it.

Build the role

Our role in society or in the group we belong to is dynamic and evolving. In many cases in this transformation, it is we, as key players, who have greater responsibility for the direction of this role. In this sense, problems usually arise when we behave like a boat adrift, when we try to take a role that exceeds the limits of our flexibility or when we want to introduce changes too fast or too radical in our functions.

In the end, everyone's role should be unique and untransferable; there may be "posts" to which we adapt when we access a new group, but starting from a few lines and general behaviors, it is the role that must adapt to us and not the other way roundas often happens.

To build one's role requires time and above all, intelligence. Ultimately, the role is the opportunity to bring to the world what we are able to bring.

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