The roles that are available to individuals in the society largely defines the nature of that society: many roles for factory workers constitute an industrial society, while roles for knowledge workers constructs a knowledge-based society. The concept of a social role is tightly connected to the institutions that make those roles available. The institution of state enables the role of the public servant, university makes the role of the scientist possible and the large quantity of production and leisure time creates the consumer.
In this timeline I have tried to describe the available roles in the Western society in the last 200 years. This timeline is, of course, highly subjective and dependent on the society in question. To whom are the roles available? Can an individual switch between roles? I have approached this with the idea that social roles used to be selected at a young age and that in the past they were more fixed for the whole lifetime than they are now.
It is a matter of another debate to consider which roles are currently available. There can also be a mismatch of available roles between the educational system and the economy. Studying how large percentage of graduates are employed to their own field is one indicator for the amount of mismatch. For example, the fact that Masters and Doctors of Philosophy end up as cleaners and cashiers indicates the inflation/disappearance of the role of the scientist.