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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Identity Map – Roles

Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, December 19, 2005
8:27 am

Role: "A
function or position
. A character or part played by a performer."

his song Man
at the Top
, Bruce Springstein quotes the old nursery rhyme, "Rich
man, poor man, beggar man, thief. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief." We often
describe people by the roles they play. Indeed, every individual is a multi-role
performer on the stage of life.

People inherit some roles (e.g. father, daughter, citizen), while some are
consciously sought (e.g. student, president, or Man
at the Top
). Others may be forced upon a person (e.g. theft victim, celebrity).

At any one time, a person can be acting in multiple roles (e.g. father, husband,
employee, mayor). Much has been written about a person’s role
balance (how an individual can address or cope with complementary or conflicting

balance has also been used to describe team performance. In managing teams
of people, I like to seek work toward Synergistic Creativity, where
a team with complementary roles can create much more than the sum of each team
member’s individual creativity. I recently learned that Patrick
R. Dugan
of Ohio State University claims to have coined that term.

Roles usually imply relationships
(e.g. The role of Father implies a relationship with a child; the role of citizen
implies a relationship with a political entity). Even an independent role (e.g.
human being) has implied relationships (e.g. each human has a mother). Some
roles are identified primarily by former relationships (e.g. ex-con, ex-wife,
former president)

A few examples of roles are categorized below:


  • Human Being
  • Actor
  • Actress
  • Celebrity


  • Father
  • Mother
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Grandparent
  • Uncle
  • Aunt
  • Wife
  • Fiance


  • Employee
  • Manager


  • Mayor
  • Senator
  • Representative
  • President


  • Vendor
  • Buyer
  • Seller
  • Cardholder
  • Addressee


  • Butcher
  • Baker
  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Fireman


  • Teacher
  • Student
  • Administrator
  • Author
  • Reader
  • Mentor


  • Pastor
  • Leader
  • Parishoner
  • Member
  • Bishop
  • Confessor


  • Quarterback
  • Power forward
  • Goalie


  • Friend
  • Enemy
  • Servant
  • Slave
  • Master

A "role model"
is a person in whom another person places trust or attempts to imitate. Charles
is often quoted as saying, "I am not a role model. . . parents
should be role models."

In the world of Digital Identity, linking roles with access privileges enables
Role Based Access Control (RBAC). I’ll
comment on RBAC in a separate blog entry.

One more thing – as you read this, you are experiencing the role of "blog
reader." I have enjoyed my role as "blog writer." Good day!

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