Social Role Valorization: A Basic Overview & Defining Important Terms

Have you ever noticed that people who are more valued by society or who hold roles that society values get to experience more of the “good things” in life? This phenomenon is explained by the Social Role Valorization (SRV) theory. SRV says that those who are in social roles that are valued by society and determined by societal norms, they are more likely to have access to and receive the “good things” that society has to offer (Osburn, 2006). On the other hand, individuals and groups who do not hold valued social roles, or who hold roles that are devalued, have very little access to the good things; therefore, holding a valued social role is essential in order to gaining access to the good things (Osburn, 2006).

What Exactly Are The “Good Things” In Life?

The good things in life include how individuals are treated by society, ability to access opportunities and resources, and ability to participate in society. According to Osburn (2006), some examples are:

· “Being accorded dignity, respect, and acceptance;

· A sense of belonging;

· An education;

· The development and exercise of one’s capacities;

· A voice in the affairs of one’s community and society;

· Opportunities to participate;

· A decent material standard of living;

· An at least normative place to live;

· Opportunities for work and self support.”

Who Are Considered Devalued Groups?

People who are devalued by society include individuals and groups who experience negative treatment systematically, and often have a similar pattern of experiences:

1. “Being perceived and interpreted as deviant, due to their negatively-valued differentness. The latter could consist of physical or functional impairments, low competence, a particular ethnic identity, certain behaviors of associations, skin color, and many others.

2. Being rejected by community, society, and even family services.

3. Being cast into negative social roles, some of which can be severely negative, such as subhuman, menace, and burden on society.

4. Being put and kept at a social or physical distance, the latter most commonly by segregation.

5. Having negative images (including language) attached to them.

6. Being the object of abuse, violence, and brutalization, and even being made dead.” (Osburn, 2006).

It is beneficial to understand SRV and the perspective it provides because by recognizing that devalued groups are having consistently negative experiences, it can then eventually help to avoid these negative experiences from continuing, at first on an individual level and then on a larger scale over time. For individuals and groups who are devalued, the good things in life are often seen as unattainable and the bad things in life become every day experiences. This is why understanding that all social roles in society should be valued; so that the good things can be more equally and equitably distributed, and that everybody can be treated with dignity and respect unconditionally.