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family role, social role

Subject Psychology

Key-Topics family

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631170488.1995.x


A role is the set of behaviours of a given person which is expected by other persons of the same social unit. It defines ‘an area of obligations and constraints that corresponds to an area of conditional autonomy (Boudon and Bourricaud, 1982, p. 308). The concept of role is a fundamental one in the sociology of the family and the sociology of social organizations. Whereas family roles are occupied and transmitted, with more or less appropriateness, as the position of each member of the family develops, social roles most often presuppose the learning of specialist knowledge and skills. In this sense, family roles are much less formalized, a priori, than social roles. A family role is an abstract, universal and normative model of the biological, cultural, generational, sexual and sexed status of a member of the family in relation to the overall system of reciprocal roles. A role can only be defined, therefore, in a system of oppositions in relation to other roles: father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, half-brother, sisters, grandmother etc. Such roles are subject to biological constraints but presuppose complex social learning processes, for which the family provides the crucible (Jackson, 1965a, b). A family role is also a particular behaviour which presuppose an interpretation of the normative role and corresponds to behaviours actually realized by each member of the family; ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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