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This study investigates the ways in which local union leaders define shop stewards' roles and the ideology that underlies their conception. Drawing on sociological theories, the author proposes three major role ideologies: conflict/activist, rationalization/bureaucratic, and functionalist/cooperative. Based on a survey of southern local union leaders, the study finds that "grievance handler" and "representative" are the most commonly identified roles for stewards. Union leaders conceive of stewards' roles in ways that reflect diffuse ideologies; nevertheless, rationalization and functionalist ideologies are more prevalent than conflict ideology.