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Multiple Social Roles and Well-Being: A Longitudinal Test of the Role Stress Theory and the Role Expansion Theory

Mikael Nordenmark
Acta Sociologica
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 115-126
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4195018
Page Count: 12
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Multiple Social Roles and Well-Being: A Longitudinal Test of the Role Stress Theory and the Role Expansion Theory
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Abstract

In general, Western societies believe that people should engage in a multitude of social activities and develop multiple social roles. The assumption is that having multiple roles is beneficial to the individual. However, it also means that life is more complex and that people have to handle sometimes conflicting demands. Earlier research on the effects of multiple roles on individual well-being has not provided a clear picture, some results supporting the role stress theory and some the role expansion theory. This article tests empirically the relevance of the role stress theory and the role expansion theory by analysing whether having multiple social roles in general decreases or increases individual well-being. The results are based on a panel study of nearly 9000 randomly selected Swedes. The conclusion is that both number of social roles and any increase in social roles are negatively correlated with the risk of suffering from insomnia and a lingering illness, and the risk of being on regular medication for a lingering illness. These findings indicate that having multiple social roles increases individual well-being; the results therefore support the role expansion theory.

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