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"part or character one takes," c.1600, from French rôle "part played by a person in life," literally "roll (of paper) on which an actor's part is written," from Old French rolle (see roll (n.)). Meaning "function performed characteristically by someone" is from 1875. In the social psychology sense from 1913. Role model first attested 1957.
role or rôle (rōl)
The characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual.
in sociology, the behaviour expected of an individual who occupies a given social position or status. A role is a comprehensive pattern of behaviour that is socially recognized, providing a means of identifying and placing an individual in a society. It also serves as a strategy for coping with recurrent situations and dealing with the roles of others (e.g., parent-child roles). The term, borrowed from theatrical usage, emphasizes the distinction between the actor and the part. A role remains relatively stable even though different people occupy the position: any individual assigned the role of physician, like any actor in the role of Hamlet, is expected to behave in a particular way. An individual may have a unique style, but this is exhibited within the boundaries of the expected behaviour.