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Lecture 3

SOC 3116 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Role Theory, The RootsPremium

2 pages53 viewsFall 2017

Course Code
SOC 3116

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3 Sociological Perspective on Life Transitions
- During the past two decades, sociologists have devoted increased attention to history, to
heterogeneity, and to the dynamics of change
- The roots of research on life transitions can be traced to classic perspectives on:
o Social roles
o The relationships between social location and personal well-being
o The mechanisms by which social contexts shape individual lives
Precursors of the Study of Life Transitions
Role Theory
- Linton (1936) introduced the initial elements of role theory, defining status as a position in
social structure and role as the expected behaviours of status occupants
- Oer tie, use of the ter role roadeed i to ays
o First, role is now used to describe both a status and the behaviours associated with it
o Second, role can refer to either the behaviours expected of a status occupant or the
behaviours exhibited by a status occupant
- Became more complex and more directly relevant to the study of life-transitions with the
emergence of interest in the dynamics of role allocation and socialization
o Role allocation: the processes by which roles are assigned to individuals and to the
related dynamics of role entry and exit
o Socialization refers to the processes by which social structure transmits to individuals
the skills and attitudes compatible with the roles that they enact
- Role theorists view social norms as the cultural referents that permit role allocation and
socialization to occur in a routinized and predictable manner
- Norms are…
o The basis of shared expectations about role behaviour
o The allocation of roles to individuals or subgroups, the timing of role entry and exit
o Socialization experiences that facilitate role performance
o Social sanctions that are applied when individuals fail to perform their roles effectively
- The link between role theory and life transitions is straightforward role entry and exit are, by
definition, transitions
- Makes two major contributions to the study of transitions
o Offers a potential explanation for the genesis and timing for life transitions
Most transitions are normatively governed and, hence, predictable in both
occurrence and timing
o Socialization provides individuals with the skills needed to master transitions and
perform new roles effectively
- These principles lead to the prediction that role based transitions typically operate smoothly,
with little disruption to individual lives or to social structure
Social Stress Research
- Conceptualizing the relationships between social location and illness
- In early studies the primary research question was whether stress mediates the relationships
between social location and illness
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