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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Power and Role-Taking: A Review of Theory, Research, and Practice

Author: Forte,James A.
Author Background:
Date 1998
Type Journal
Journal Title: Journal-of-Human-Behavior-in-the-Social-Environment
Volume/Pages 1(4) 27-56
Subject Matter Research, Practice, and Human Behavior
Abstract Power & role-taking theory argues that social structural arrangements influence face-to-face communication processes. Specifically, powerful & powerless interactants tend to differ in their motivations to take the other's role & in the accuracy of their interpersonal understandings. Basic concepts of the theory & its interrelated propositions are identified, & a comprehensive literature review serves to gauge its empirical support. With some qualifications, a set of 26 quantitative studies supported propositions regarding the relationship of unequal power to role-taking propensity, accuracy, & empathy. Examination of eight qualitative studies offered fruitful directions for theoretical refinement. A set of 15 practice effectiveness studies suggested that role-taking processes in asymmetrical relationships can be changed. Practice implications for social workers committed to challenging the power imbalances typical of cross-gender, interracial, interclass, & cross-position relationships are suggested. 118 References. Adapted from the source document