Multiple Roles and the Self: A Theory of Role Balance
The literature on multiple roles and identities tends either to ignore strategies of role-system organization altogether or to assume that all people organize a salience hierarchy, through which they assign more importance to some roles and selves than to others. Drawing on our reading of William James and George Herbert Mead, we argue that the way people organize their roles and identities is an empirical issue, not an established fact, and that it is a live option for people to create a nonhierarchical pattern of self-organization. We offer findings from two studies of role balance. Using planned comparisons, we confirm hypotheses that people who maintain more balance across their entire systems of roles and activities will score lower on measures of role strain and depression and higher on measures of self-esteem, role ease, and other indicators of well-being. We end with some cautions and suggestions concerning the further exploration of role balance.