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Social Roles

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Social Roles

Roles are apart of who we are. They were established for us depending on the family we were born into or even where we were raised. These roles tell us how to act and what we can and cannot do.

As an example, the role of an adolescent born into a wealthy New England family might include the attendance of an expensive preparatory school with uniforms in order to achieve a college degree from an ivy league university. The role of a child born into poverty in an inter-city ghetto however, might not even involve a high school diploma, much less a dress code. These expectations of behavior or obligations are the roles that define who we are. Unfortunately in many circumstances, these roles can be difficult to maintain.

Role conflict is one of the illustrations of how role playing can be difficult. A teenager in high school might be required by his parents to be home by ten o'clock each night. If one of their best friends is having a birthday party, they might be encouraged by their peers to sneak out of the house and attend the party. According to the teen's role as a child, they should be home by ten o'clock and not go to the party. Based on the role set by the teen's social circle, not showing up to the party would be a negative thing. This dilemma between social roles best describes role conflict.

Another conflict imposed by playing the part of a certain role is role strain. If you were the owner of a business, you will probably experience role strain. As the owner you are going to want your company to do well and be profitable. Especially in smaller businesses,

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