Social Change And Modernization

Social Change and modernization:Problems of role conflict

Role conflict occurs when there are incompatible demands placed upon a person such that compliance with both would be difficult. Persons experience role conflict when they find themselves pulled in various directions as they try to respond to the many statuses they hold. Role conflict can be something that can be for either a short period of time, or a long period of time, and it can also be connected to situational experiences.  

Intra-role conflict occurs when the demands are within a single domain of life, such as on the job. An example would be when two superiors ask an employee to do a task, and both cannot be accomplished at the same time. Inter-role conflict occurs across domains of life. An example of inter-role conflict would be a husband and father who is also Chief of Police. If a tornado strikes the small town he is living in, the man has to decide if he should go home and be with his family and fulfill the role of being a good husband and father or remain and fulfill the duties of a “good” Chief of Police because the whole town needs his expertise.

Conflict among the roles begins because of the human desire to reach success, and because of the pressure put on an individual by two imposing and incompatible demands competing against each other. The effects of role conflict, as found through case-studies and nationwide surveys, are related to individual personality characteristics and interpersonal relations. Individual personality characteristic conflicts can arise within personality role conflict where “aspects of an individual’s personality are in conflict with other aspects of that same individual’s personality”. Interpersonal relations can cause conflict because they are by definition “having an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring, which can cause that conflict.”

When one has multiple role responsibilities, duties or demands from education, job or family relationships, it can be hard to manage. Additionally, the responsibilities are manageable while other times it can be hard to manage especially when one is living in a low income household.


Homeless men and gender

Homelessness is a situation that takes a heavy toll on anyone, especially men with children or dependents. Traditional gender roles describe men as being the providers. Homeless men are often unemployed thus lack the means to provide the resources that their family needs. This can cause high levels of distress in men. Homeless men may also become the sole caregiver of their children during homelessness. This can lead to high stress levels in men because they are expected to take on the role of both provider and nurturer. The transition can be very overwhelming.

In prisons

Prisons are filled predominantly with male inmates. This may be due to the dominant construction of masculinity, which inclines males to criminality and violence. Dominant masculinity is symbolized by control, independence, heterosexuality, aggressiveness, authority, and a capacity for violence in American culture. When a male finds themselves lacking in one of these areas they may be driven to make up for it in another area; such as when a poor, jobless young man tries to show masculinity by carrying a gun or wearing gang related clothing. When one is in prison, many of the resources use to assert masculinity are not readily available, thus men seek other ways to proclaim their masculinity. Many inmates find in imperative to put on a mask of hyper-masculinity, which may conflict with their normal personality, in order to maintain their status within the prison. This expectation to maintain a certain idea of masculinity “contradicts basic human needs and desires for intimacy and emotional expression, creating stress and conflict between men’s core selves and social expectations.

Role conflict is seen not only in the inmates of the prison, but also the prison personnel. There are two types of prisons: custody prisons and treatment prisons. The main goal of a custody prison is to protect the community by maintaining control over the inmates. The correctional officers are expected to maintain order, enforce rules, and keep custody. A key rule to their job is that interaction between inmates and officers is to remain distant. The main goal of a treatment prison is to protect the community by rehabilitating the inmate. The Officers are expected to respond to inmates in a therapeutic manner and develop ties with the inmates. Currently prisons are combining the two types of custody and the staff is experiencing role conflict. Officers are being asked to do conflicting jobs such as remain socially distant while also building close, supportive relationships with inmates. This emphasis on the combination of custody and treatment often results in two distinguished, mutually antagonistic groups of staff.

Role clarity and role ambiguity

One of the main causes of role conflict is role ambiguity, which is the lack of certainty in what a certain role in an organization requires. This can be the result or poor communication of job duties or unclear instructions from a supervisor. This can lead to role conflict when there are contradicting ideas as to what tasks are supposed to be accomplished. Team members can then be uncertain of their role and their teammate’s roles to the team and team objectives begin to conflict with one another.  The solution to this problem and role conflict as a whole can come from role clarity. As its name suggests, role clarity is clearly defining roles and objectives so as to reduce role conflict and role ambiguity. To do this, employers need to clearly communicate with employees as to the goals of a project. Also, employees should be fully aware of their role in the group and their responsibilities. It is helpful if one develops and maintains a working environment where workers have communication and if needed, feedback can be provided. Encouragement is another form of clarity. If one has a question or is not clear about a specific role that has been given to them, workers can communicate. Make sure the person understands their roles and duties to avoid any mistakes that can occur, and ensure that workers have an up-to-date role so they can manage their roles accordingly.

Within a workplace

Working with groups – especially in a work or committee setting – can sometimes result in role conflict if an individual feels that his or her roles are in opposition. These roles may be in conflict for many reasons. For example, the role taker may misunderstand the role sender’s prescribed tasks or the miscommunication can occur the other way, as well. If a role taker is seemingly enthusiastic about taking on many tasks within various roles, this may be communicated to the role sender and he or she may be given conflicting role requirements. Role conflict can pair with role ambiguity – a situation in which the expectations of a role are ill-defined – to create role stress, which is detrimental to workplace performance. Role stress has also been linked to decreased job satisfaction and employee turnover. To avoid role conflict within a work place, managers should outline specifically the duties required by an employee to avoid any miscommunication or confusion. Feedback should also be provided to employees, as this explicitly illustrates if the role-taker is properly performing the role requirements and can assist the role-taker if there are any concerns. Steps should be taken to avoid the crossover of potentially conflicting roles and if two or more roles are required of an employee, these roles should be separated by time and place if possible.


Interpersonal role conflict occurs when the source of the dilemma stems from occupancy of more than one focal position. For example, as a husband and a father in a social system a superintendent may think his wife and children expect him to spend most of his evenings with them. However, his school board and P.T.A. groups, he may feel, expect him (as their school superintendent) to spend most of his after-office hours on educational and civic activities. The superintendent usually cannot satisfy both of these incompatible expectations.


Intra-personal role conflict occurs when an individual in one role believes that others have many different expectations for him/her in regards to that role. “The school superintendent, for example, may feel that the teachers expect him to be their spokesperson and leader, to take their side on such matters as salary increases and institutional policy. However, the superintendent may feel that the school board members expect him to represent them, to “sell” their views to the staff because he is the executive officer and the administrator of school board policies”.


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