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Role theory is a perspective in social psychology that considers most of everyday activity to be living up to the roles, or expectations, of others.
It posits the following propositions about social behavior:
- People spend much of their lives in groups.
- Within these groups, people often take distinct positions.
- Each of these positions can be called a role, with a whole set of functions that are molded by the expectations of others.
- Formalized expectations become norms when enough people feel comfortable in providing punishments and rewards for the expected behavior.
- Individuals are generally conformists, and in so far as that is true, they conform to roles.
- The anticipation of rewards and punishments inspire this conformity.
The central weakness of role theory is in describing and explaining deviant behavior.
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