Social status

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Template:EducationalAssignment Social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society (one's social position). The stratification system, which is the system of distributing rewards to the members of society, determines social status. Social status, the position or rank of a person or group within the stratification system, can be determined two ways. One can earn their social status by their own achievements, which is known as achieved status, or one can be placed in the stratification system by their inherited position, which is called ascribed status.

Status in different societies

Status- the relative rank that an individual holds, with attendant rights, duties, and lifestyle, in a social hierarchy based upon honor or prestige. Status has two different types that come along with it, achieved, and ascribed. The word status refers to social stratification on a vertical scale. In modern societies, occupation is usually thought of as the main determinant of status, but other memberships or affiliations (such as ethnic group, religion, gender, voluntary associations, fandom, hobby) can have an influence. For example, a doctor often has higher status than a factory worker, but in some societies a white Protestant doctor has higher status than a non-White, immigrant doctor of a minority religion.[citation needed] The importance of social status can be seen in the peer status hierarchy of geeks, athletes, cheerleaders, nerds, and weirdos in American high schools.[1][2] Achieved status is when people are placed in the stratification structure based on their individual merits or achievements. You can achieve this status through education, occupation, and marital status. America most commonly uses this form of status with jobs. The higher up your are in rank the better off you are and the more control you have over your co-workers.

In pre-modern societies, status differentiation is widely varied. In some cases it can be quite rigid and class based, such as with the Indian caste system. In other cases, status exists without class and/or informally, as is true with some Hunter-Gatherer societies such as the Khoisan, and some Indigenous Australian societies. In these cases, status is limited to specific personal relationships. For example, a Khoisan man is expected to take his wife's mother quite seriously (a non-joking relationship), although the mother-in-law has no special "status" over anyone except her son-in-law--and only then in specific contexts. All societies have a form of social status.

Status is an important idea in social stratification. Max Weber distinguishes status from social class[citation needed], though some contemporary empirical sociologists add the two ideas to create Socio-Economic Status or SES, usually operationalised as a simple index of income, education and occupational prestige.

Income and status

Status inconsistency is a situation when an individual's social positions have both positive and negative influences on his social status. For example, a teacher has a positive societal image (respect, prestige) which increases his status but may earn little money, which simultaneously decreases his status. In contrast, a drug dealer, may have low social position though have a high income. However, a drug dealer may have high status within his or her own reference group (e.g., inner city gangs) and may be indifferent to his "low status" within the larger society. For example, a wealthy drug dealer who flaunts the proceeds of his trade may have the highest social status on the "street." Thus, "status inconsistency" applies to situations where members of the in-group judge the status of members of an out-group and may not apply to cases of status attainment on all criteria within an in-group. Economic status occurs when one’s position in the stratification structure is based on their economic status in the world. This is based on income, education, and occupation. Also you must take into consideration inherited wealth, savings, occupational benefits, and ownerships of homes or motor homes.

Inborn & acquired status

Statuses based on inborn characteristics, such as gender, are called ascribed statuses, while statuses that individuals gained thorough their own efforts are called achieved statuses. Specific behaviors are associated with social stigmas which can affect status.

Ascribed Status is when one’s position is inherited through family, racially, ethnically, and religiously serve as basis for ascribed status. Most kings’ and queen’s use this method so that the ruler stays in the family. This usually occurs at birth without any reference as to how that person may turn out to be a good or bad leader.

Social Mobility and Social Status

Status can be changed through a process of Social Mobility. Social mobility is the change of position within the stratification system. A change in status can be done upwardly in status, upward mobility, or they can move down in status, downward mobility. Social mobility allows for a person do move to another social status other than that one they were born in. Social mobility is more common in societies where achievement rather than ascription is the primary basis for social status.

Social Stratification

Social stratification describes the way in which different groups of people are placed with society. It is associated with the ability of individuals to live up to some set of ideals or principles regarded as important by the society or some social group within it. The members of a social group interact mainly within their own group and to a lesser degree with those of higher or lower status.


  • Wealth and Income (most common)- Ties between persons with the same personal income
  • Gender- Ties between persons of the same sex and sexuality
  • Political Status- Ties between persons of the same political views/status
  • Religion- Ties between persons of the same religion
  • Ethnicity/Race- Ties between persons of the same group, defined against other groups
  • Social Class- Ties between persons born into the same group

Max Weber's Three Dimensions of Stratification

Max Weber developed a theory that proposed the idea that stratification is based on three factors that have become known as “the three p’s of stratification.” They are: property, prestige and power. He claimed that social stratification is a result of the interaction among wealth, prestige and power. Property refers to one’s material possessions and their life chances. If someone has control of property, that person has power of others and can use the property to his or her benefit. Prestige is also a significant factor in determining one’s place in the stratification system. The ownership of property is not always going to assure power, but there are frequently people with prestige and little property. Power is the ability to get people to do what one wants, without having much property. For example, some people in charge of the government have an immense amount of power, and yet they do not make much money.


Our typical social network are composed of people who are similar to us. The strongest network ties are typically age, religion, occupation(class), gender, and ethnicity.

Characteristics of networks that are composed of non similar individuals:

  • Members tend to form roles within the network
  • They tend to dissolve at a higher rate


  • Michael Marmot (2004), The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity, Times Books
  • Botton, Alain De (2004), Status Anxiety, Hamish Hamilton
Social status. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October  17,  2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  • Stark, Rodney (2007). Sociology (10th Edition ed.). Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 0-495-09344-0.
  • Gould, Roger (2002). The Origin of Status Hierarchy. American Journal of Sociology, 107, Retrieved Oct. 26, 2007, from
  • Mcpherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. BIRDS OF A FEATHER. American Journal of Sociology, 27, Retrieved Sept 27, 2007, from

See also

de:Sozialer Status et:Sotsiaalne staatus fa:پایگاه اجتماعی it:Status sociale he:סטטוס חברתי nl:Sociale status sr:Социјални статус sv:Social status uk:Статус соціальний Template:WikiDoc Sources