A Critical Analysis Of Jeanne Jackson's Role Theory

772 Words4 Pages
While differing approaches to Role Theory, as described by Biddle, may provide literary scholars with a useful framework within which one may better assign, locate, and thus understand how social roles are developed, functions performed and conflicts mediated, there are a number of instances in which the field’s limitations outweigh its usefulness as an analytic tool, not just in the field of literary studies, but in general. Jeanne Jackson’s critical analysis of role theory will serve as the starting point and guideline in this discussion. Jackson points out that role theory “falsely reifies certain social ideologies into concrete realities or objective templates, and names them roles.” This is to say, it perpetuates a normative illusion that could give way to a false sense of universality that does not admit variation or diversity, because these pre-packaged roles may in fact be based on conservative social ideologies. Thus, a number of factors could be rendered invisible (for example, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, social, economic and cultural factors), and an ideal image, upheld by a conservative political ideology, would exemplify the “proper way” to execute a social role. One example that Jackson highlights is that of the role…show more content…
In a number of Role Theories, namely functionalist, structural, organizational theories, “[…] conformity is viewed as a good thing; social integration and personal satisfaction are greater when persons conform to their own and others’ expectations.” (Biddle, 79) But individuals that engage outside the norms are labeled as deviants, and the individual’s inability to conform to standard expectations of behavior is explained by insufficient socialization, or a mismatch between the individual’s personality and the behavioral expectations. (Jackson,
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