What Does the Social Role Theory Suggest?


Martha Robinson

Social Role Theory is a popular framework that focuses on how gender roles and stereotypes emerge and influence behavior. According to this theory, individuals are socialized into specific roles based on their gender, which shapes their behavior and expectations.

What is Social Role Theory?

Social Role Theory suggests that gender roles are created by society’s expectations of appropriate behavior for men and women. These expectations are reinforced through socialization, culture, and media.

Socialization refers to the process by which individuals learn the norms, values, and behaviors of their culture. It begins in childhood and continues throughout one’s life.

How does Social Role Theory work?

Social Role Theory argues that men and women adopt different roles due to their biological differences. Men are typically seen as more aggressive, dominant, and competitive, whereas women are seen as nurturing, caring, and emotional.

These differences can be attributed to the different experiences that men and women have in society. For example, boys are often encouraged to be more physical in their play activities while girls are encouraged to engage in quieter activities like playing with dolls.

As a result of these experiences, men tend to take on more leadership positions while women tend to take on more nurturing roles such as childcare or teaching. These gender-based roles create stereotypes that perpetuate these differences over time.

  • The impact of Social Role Theory

Social Role Theory has significant implications for understanding gender inequality. The theory suggests that gender roles are not natural but rather socially constructed. This means that they can be changed if society decides to do so.

However, changing gender roles is easier said than done since they have been deeply ingrained in society over time. Stereotypes about what men should do versus what women should do have been around for centuries.


In conclusion, Social Role Theory provides an insightful explanation of how gender roles are created and perpetuated by society. It underscores the importance of socialization, culture, and media in shaping our attitudes and beliefs about gender.

While gender roles are not biologically determined, they have significant implications for how men and women experience the world. Gender inequality can only be addressed by challenging these stereotypes and promoting more equality between men and women in all aspects of life.