ED 028 971 sp 002 330
By'Warnecke, Richard B.; Riddle, Dorothy K.
The Lay Image and the Professional Role: An Exploration of Discontinuity in the Process of Anticipatory
Pub Date 168]
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Descriptors'*Professional Occupations, *Role Perception, ^Socialization
Discontinuity in changing from one status or role to another lessens with
knowledge of the new role (gained through observation or indirect sources such as a
counselor) and acquisition of its behavioral characteristics prior to formalization of
the change (anticipatory socialization). This theory presumes that the image or role
expectation upon which anticipatory socialization is based is accurate. In
professional roles such as nursing or teaching, however, conflicting images exist: the
professional image, which accurately indicates role duties; and the public, which
reflects the dramatic and sterotypic role aspects and may also be outdated. A study
of teacher interns revealed that those who made the most successful transition from
student to teacher entered the intern program with the clearest and most accurate
image of the teacher, based on teachers whom they knew personally as well as
professionally. Research on socialization for change is needed as it relates to
educational and sociological problems such as urban and vocational education. (UP)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION & WELFARE
OFFICE OF EDUCATION
THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN REPRODUCED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED FROM THE
PERSON OR ORGANIZATION ORIGINATING IT. POINTS OF VIEW OR OPINIONS
STATED DO NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT OFFICIAL OFFICE OF EDUCATION
POSITION OR POLICY.
The Lay Image and the Professional Roles An
Exploration of Discontinuity in the Process of
Richard B. wamecke
State University of New York at Buffalo
Dorothy K. Riddle
Tertiary Education Research Center
University of New South Wales
An issue of some interest in the theories of role socialization and
status transition has been the problem of role conflict which arises when
there is discontinuity between the expectations associated with the new status
and those of the former status. Most traditional perspectives on the issue of
role socialization for change in status tend to make the implicit assumption
that there is consensus within the society , and particularly among the agents
of socialization, as to the legitimate content of the role expectations assoc-
iated with the anticipated status. Within this context, conflict which arises
from the change in status is viewed as the result of the need of the individual
to change his expectations to meet the needs of the role he will perform in
his new status.
From this point of view, the function of the rites of passage is to
facilitate from both a social and legal standpoint the passage of the individual
between two potentially discontinuous statuses. Of particular importance in
these rites is the liminal or margin phase. In this phase the novice learns
the norms, values and expectations which enable him to perform successfully in
his new status. After this formal socialization phase, the novice is expected
to return to full activity in the society with both the social legitimacy and
the knowledge essential to perform his new role.
The studies of the American Soldier during World War II added an important
insight to theory related to the process of status transition. As the investig-
ators examined changes in status among the military, it was noted that often
those who successfully assumed new statuses began to acquire the necessary
behavioral characteristics and role orientations prior to the time of the
formalization of the change. The recognition of the process of anticipatory
socialization added much to the traditional theories of status transition.
Like earlier theories, it assumed that the content of role expectations assoc-
iated with the anticipated status was generally agreed upon by both the
incumbent and the socializing agents. However , it was assumed that much of
the discontinuity resulting from a sudden change in status would disappear.
Discontinuity would be lessened because with anticipatory socialization the
change would occur gradually and well before the status actually had to be
assumed. This approach therefore tended to de-emphasize the importance of
the formal rites of passage which earlier theories assumed would aid in the
process of status transition.
Theories of status transition which incorporate the idea of anticipatory
socialization assume that the incumbent will have an accurate and complete
picture of the role expectations associated with the anticipated state.
Access to such an image makes it necessary that the incumbent will have some
prior contact with the role either through observation of someone who performs
it or through second hand sources of information such as parent, a counselor
or some literature. What ever the source, the continuity which is implied
in this theory is dependent upon the articulation between the expectations
developed in anticipation of the status change and the expectations which
will be made of the novice once the new status is assumed.
For many of the major roles in society the formal socialization process .
remains important, at least as a source of public legitimation. For other
roles the process of formal education is a necessity because of the kinds
of special knowledge which is needed in their performance • For these latter
roles, formal education inevitably includes the transmission of certain
attitudes and values. One status in this category is the profession. The
professions, because of their unique role in the society, tend to have
associated with them a well-defined and highly articulated set of values
and associated norms. They tend to have a well-defined body of knowledge.
And finally, they tend to provide a particular set of rewards for their
members. These elements, which define the content of the professional role.
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are transmitted through formal socialization in the professional school.
Because of the important function which the professions perform for the
society, they generally have a well-defined public image. This public image
serves to legitimize the role which the professional performs and it tends
to give him power in certain areas of activity. However, the aspects of
the professional role which are incorporated in this public or lay image
are often based upon those parts of the professional role which are publicly
visible in the professional's activity. Often too, the lay image of the
professional role tends to incorporate only the most dramatic or romantic
components of the professional's activity. This results in a stereo-typed
image of what the professions do. Finally, the lay image often reflects the
public's impression of those who typically assume the role, and thus it
often incorporates ascriptive characteristics associated with some other
social category such as "women", or "men".
For whatever reason the public or lay image often fails to fully
reflect the components of the role which are the most important within the
profession. It is also slow to reflect internal changes which occur in the
professional role definition, since these often challenge the popular concep-
tion of the role. Anticipatory socialization which is based upon this public
image of the profession is often the source of discontinuity of a sort different
from that which has been traditionally the concern of theories of status
transition. Discontinuity in the present sense arises, not because of the
difficulty on the part of the novice in changing to meet role expectations,
but precisely because the novice has changed to meet these expectations. He
has changed, however, to accomodate a role which he only perceives in part.
Thus role conflict in this situation arises not because of a problem of the
incumbent but becaui 3 the social system has failed to provide an accurate
image of the role for which anticipatory socialization has occurred.
This discontinuity is quite apparent in the findings of a study of
dropouts from a collegiate nursing program which was done by the senior author
of this paper. Because of changes in the organization of health care and the
treatment of illness# nursing has undergone a drastic change in role definition.
As a result# the central values of the traditional nursing role# which emphasized
direct care and treatment of the patient# and gave the occupation a pre-eminent
place among the "typically feminine" occupations, have been redefined to
incorporate in the role the activity of directing others in the provision of
this care. Thus the internal definition of the nursing role as transmitted
through the professional program of nursing education tends to emphasize the
supervision and direction of the activities of auxiliary personnel# the ability
to perform highly complex techniques# and the increasing responsibility for
the maintenance of written records and the standardization of procedures.
The alternative to this bureaucratically oriented role is not the traditional
role of direct patient care, but the training of nursing students in a school
of nursing. As one study of nursing education notes rather plaintively:
It is a fact of everyday experience that by and large, the more
educated the nurse becomes, the further away from actual patient
care she gets. She may, and usually does feel guilty, but she
has to choose# and her choice implies the sacrifice of what is
found to be less desirable. H
This change in role definition has also introduced changes into the
reward system. No longer are the major rewards in nursing associated with
the giving of good patient care. Since the patient-centered context of
nursing is becoming less and less part of the nursing role# the nurses
rewards are now associated with what most nurses do. Hence they come
primarily for the performance as a good bureaucrat or administrator. They
are typically in the form of increased prestige# promotion and greater
responsibility# in the administrative heirarchy.
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However, the lay or public ideology associated with nursing continues
to emphasize the traditional nursing role* In the public image* and even
in the ideology of nursing, the welfare of the patient is best served by
direct contact with the nurse in a highly personal and nurturant relationship.
The nursing role is viewed, in short, as an extension of the mother role and
the patient is romantically seen as her helpless child. This view is retained
by many practicing nurses outside of the professional schools where the novice
is socialized. Thus nursing has been described as possessing a "blurred self-
image.” One result of this is the presence of an ideology which emphasizes
the values of patient contact and service but which actually rewards those
who move furthest from this ideal.
The impact of the discontinuity between the public image and the professional
definition of the nursing role is quite clear in the data provided by the drop-
outs. Among those who dropped out, there was a clear rejection of commitment
to a professional role orientation. This rejection was combined with a
frustration with the absence of opportunity for self-expression. Moreover,
although the importance of nursing course work was recognized, the dropouts
felt that the emphasis with which it was presented in this nursing program was
not consistent with this image of nursing. Finally, there was a clear indication
that those who dropped out had experienced some anticipatory socialization from
contact with those performing in medically related occupational roles.
By contrast, the student who did not drop out did not experience anticip-
atory socialization from others in medically related roles. They tended to
be committed to a career as professional nurses and did not feel that nursing
education denied them the opportunity for self-expression. Moreover, although
they did not place as much importance on nursing course work per se as did
the dropouts, they tended to feel that the presentation of it in the professional
school was appropriate to their goals.
It is of further interest to note that among the dropouts twenty assumed
the most nurturant role society of fers— marriage, nineteen enrolled in non-
professional ly oriented nursing programs, and an additional twenty-one chose
other service oriented occupations such as school teaching, social work,
physical therapy or medicine.
The nursing school itself recognizes the impact of anticipatory social-
ization based on the public image of nursing. When the faculty were questioned
concerning the criteria which were used in selecting new students for admission,
most rejected such criteria as knowledge of nursing, practical experience and
desire to be of service. The criteria most chosen were intelligence, personality,
Clearly, those students who dropped out of the professional nursing program
experienced conflict between their image of nursing developed through anticipatory
socialization and the image of nursing held by the professional nursing school.
It is clear too that the professional nursing school recognizes the negative
impact of such an image and tends to emphasize criteria which promote articu-
lation between the two images. In large measure discontinuity is the result
of the public stereo-type of the nurse and the nursing role. However, it is
also a factor of the change which has occurred in the content of the nursing
role, change which has failed to reach the level of ideology as reflected in
the value system of the larger society.
Dorothy Riddle has recently completed a study of role socialization among
teacher interns. The data which resulted from this study point to the existence
of the same type of conflict in teacher education. However, her findings provide
more concrete evidence of the conditions under which successful anticipatory
socialization facilitates the transition from layman to professional.
In her study. Riddle compared teacher interns in terms of their self-
evaluation of the clarity with which they viewed their roles as teachers.
Her findings indicated that teacher interns who most successfully made the
transition from student to teacher arrived in the intern program with the
clearest image of the teacher role. Furthermore, this role clarity was the
result of an accurate image of the teaching role developed through anticipatory
socialization. Although the clarity with which the image of the teaching role
was perceived made the process of formal education more meaningful to these
interns, they did not need to learn how to behave as teachers. They could
thus concentrate on the content which was offered in the program. Riddle's
evidence indicated that these students were better able to see the relevance
of the course work for their future roles, since the expectations of these
roles were clear to them.
The anticipatory socialization experienced by the interns with high
role clarity differed from that experienced by both the dropouts from the
student nursing program and that experienced by the interns with low role
clarity in two respects. First, the teacher interns had used as their role
models teachers whom they knew in many contexts both inside and outside the
classroom. Thus they were able to develop a realistic image of the teaching
role and one which reflected both the public and professional orientations.
Second, the high role clarity interns made the decision to become teachers
on the basis of criteria intrinsic to the teacher role.
By contrast, the low role clarity interns had no clear image of the
teaching role. Their image seemed to reflect the popular stereo-type assoc-
iated with the public image. Their view of the teacher was restricted largely
to the classroom situation. Moreover, the low role clarity interns made the
decision to become teachers on the basis of criteria which were largely extrinsic
to the teacher role.
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The discussion in this paper relates to only one aspect of a more
general problem which we find with the theoretical perspectives dealing
with role socialization and status transition. The major difficulty associated
with these theories lies in their assumption that the social system is stable
and that change, when it occurs, is immediately visible to all segments of
the system. It is clear that such an assumption is untenable in most com-
plex social systems. Therefore it is surprising to us that despite a
"v;ndous amount of concern with social change in both the fields of
Sociology and Education there has been little research which deals with
socialisation for change. Over a decade ago David Riesman and Alex Inkeles
published some tentative findings in this area, but since then little has
been done. The problem is, we believe, a pressing one. It relates to prob-
lems of urban education, occupational and vocational education and many other
areas which touch jointly on the two disciplines.
■1-Ruth Benedict , "Continuities and Discontinuities in Cultural Conditioning , "
Psychiatry , May, 1963, pp. 161-67., Hughes, Everett C., "Dilemmas and
Contradictions in Status," American Journal of Sociology , March, 1945,
pp. 353-59., Mirra Komarovsky, "Cultural Contradictions and Sex Roles,"
American Journal of Sociology , November, 1946, pp. 184-189., Talcott Parsons,
"Age and Sex in the Social Structure of the United States," American
Sociological Review , October, 1942, pp. 604-616.
^Victor W. Turner, "Myth and Symbol," International Encyclopedia of the
Social Sciences , Volume V, pp. 576-81.
3 Samuel A. Stouffer, et^ al^. , The American Soldier: Adjustment to Army
Life, Volume I, Studies in the Social Psychology of World War II
(Princeton University Press: Princeton, N. J., 1949).
^Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure , Rev. Ed. (Glencoe:
The Free Press, 1967) pp. 384-385.
5 Ibid , pp. 336-354.
^Bernard Barber, "Some Problems in the Sociology of Professions," Daedalus ,
92 (Fall, 1963) pp. 669-688.
7 Lyle V. Saunders, "The Changing Role of the Nurse," American Journal of
Nursing, 54 (1954) p. 1097. Leonard Reissman and John Rohrer (eds.) Change
and Dilemma in the Nursing Profession (New York: Putnam, 1957) passim .
Robert W. Habenstein and Edwin A. Christ, Prof essionalizer , Traditionalizer ,
and Utilizer (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1955) passim .
Kenneth D. Benne and Warren Bennis, "Confusion and Conflict in Nursing,"
American Journal of Nursing , 59 (1959) p. 380. Ida H. Simpson, "Patterns of
Socialization in the Professions: The Case of the Student Nurse," (Durham,
North Carolina: Duke University, 1960) pp. 2-4 and passim . Mimeograph.
^Richard B. Warnecke, Dropouts from Collegiate Nursing: A Typological Study
of Role Conflict (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University, 1966) Unpublished
^Esther Lucille Brown, Nursing for the Future (New York: Russell Sage Founda-
tion, 1948) p. 75. Habenstein and Christ, pp. 1-5, Reissman and Rohrer, p. 91.
■^Ronald G. Corwin, Marvin J* Taves and Eugene Haas, "Professional Disillusionment,
Nursing Research 10 (Summer, 1961) pp.. 141-44
■^Madeline Clemence Vaillot, Commitment to Nursing , (Philadelphia: Lippincott,
1963) p. 202.
12 Bernard Barber, "Some Problems in the Sociology of Professions."
^ 3 Benne and Bennis, p. 380.
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14 Dorothy K. Riddle, Intern Teachers' Experie nced Anticipatory Socialization ,
(Buffalo: State University of New York at Buffalo, 1968) Unpublished Doctoral
15 David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950)
16 Alex Inkeles, "Social Change and Social Character: The Role of Parental
Mediation," The Journal of Social Issues XI (1955) pp. 12-22.