What are the roles of power

How did I become who I am?

Wolfgang Sander

To person

Prof. Dr. phil., born 1944; Educational scientist at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster.
Address: Westphalian Wilhelms University, Institute for Educational Science, Georgskommende 33, 48143 Münster.
E-mail:[email protected]

Physics has created an excellent conceptual instrument in mechanics to understand certain processes in nature that have to do with force, work, mass, energy and acceleration, to make them calculable, and even to shape them. Similarly, sociology looks for elementary categories in order to understand how society works and how we can reliably coordinate our behavior with one another. According to the sociologist R. Dahrendorf, role theory offers this concept.

Source text

The role theory according to the opinion of the sociologist R. Dahrendorf

(1) Social roles are ... quasi-objective, individually independent complexes of rules of conduct.
(2) Their special content is not determined and changed by any individual, but by society.
(3) The behavior expectations bundled in roles meet the individual with a certain binding nature of the claim, so that he cannot evade them without harm.

Source: Dahrendorf, R. (1965): Homo sociologicus. An attempt on the history, meaning and criticism of the category of the social role, 5th edition, Cologne - Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag (1st edition 1958), p. 27 f.
The stability of the behavior is determined according to the commitment Must, should and can expectations controlled. Deviations from the norm are controlled and sanctioned. From the point of view of role theory is socialization precisely the process in which the actor (consciously or unconsciously) takes on a role and is ready to heed the expectations of the important reference groups and persons and to show appropriate behavior taking into account the applicable norms and the possible imminent sanctions. Role conflicts arise when the expectations of the reference groups or persons contradict each other and the role owner is required to look for (pressure) compensation. A crisis arises for the role owner then and to the extent that a balance of the contradicting expectations does not seem possible. The role concept makes it clear how the individual, by taking on a role, orientates himself in the social environment and attains socially adapted behavior. Taking on socially pre-formed roles gives him and the social environment predictability and social security.

The role-theoretical socialization concept can be used to analyze social areas such as police, military, administration, companies and social institutions with "uniformed personnel" or even road traffic, since clear role descriptions are available here and the enforcement of the regulations is achieved through rigid sanctions in the event of deviations, which in a high degree of security and predictability guaranteed. But many social relationships in our civil society are more the result of negotiation processes that can then change again quickly. Many social relationships between parents and children, between teachers and students, among young people as well as those in the cultural and leisure activities are more of the kind that they are flexible and individually designed and largely determined and negotiated by the actors. It is a hallmark of civil society that many social agreements are largely based on voluntary agreement. It would therefore be a mistake to use the static role model to analyze these parts of society and to use the sociological knowledge gained in this way as the basis for design proposals. Voluntary agreements are a great asset in a civil society. In the family, in school and in class, young people learn how such civil processes are to be designed and how "good habits" can be developed, negotiated, changed and established on this basis. In order to be able to adequately describe social processes of this kind, a more open socialization concept is required.

In addition: The role theory introduces the mechanics of the highly predictable parts of society like a woodcut, but within this concept the actors (e.g. young people) cannot even begin to discuss whether the behavior is responsible (fair, just, solidarity, morally justifiable) is or not, as it supports a purely analytical, functional approach and completely ignores judgmental statements, which is clearly disadvantageous for imparting orientation knowledge in view of phenomena such as violence, discrimination, racism, fundamentalism, radicalism, oppression and sexism.