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Social status is the relative level of respect, honor, assumed competence, and deference accorded to people, groups, and organizations in a society.[1][2] Some writers have also referred to a socially valued role or category a person occupies as a "status" (e.g., gender, race, having a criminal conviction, etc.).[3] Status is based in beliefs about who members of a society believe holds comparatively more or less social value.[4] By definition, these beliefs are broadly shared among members of a society. As such, people use status hierarchies to allocate resources, leadership positions, and other forms of power. In so doing, these shared cultural beliefs make unequal distributions of resources and power appear natural and fair, supporting systems of social stratification.[5] Status hierarchies appear to be universal across human societies, affording valued benefits to those who occupy the higher rungs, such as better health, social approval, resources, influence, and freedom.[2]

Status hierarchies depend primarily on the possession and use of status symbols. These are cues people use to determine how much status a person holds and how they should be treated.[6] Such symbols can include the possession of socially valuable attributes, like being conventionally beautiful or having a prestigious degree. Other status symbols include wealth and its display through conspicuous consumption.[7] Status in face-to-face interaction can also be conveyed through certain controllable behaviors, such as assertive speech, posture,[8] and emotional displays.[9]

Contents

DeterminationEdit

Some perspectives on status emphasize its relatively fixed and fluid aspects. Ascribed statuses are fixed for an individual at birth, while achieved status is determined by social rewards an individual acquires during his or her lifetime as a result of the exercise of ability and/or perseverance.[10] Examples of ascribed status include castes, race, and beauty among others. Meanwhile, achieved statuses are akin to one's educational credentials or occupation: these things require a person to exercise effort and often undergo years of training. The term master status has been used to describe the status most important for determining a person's position in a given context.[11][12]

Other perspectives, like status characteristics theory, eschew the idea of a master status (in the sense of a social attribute that has an out-sized effect on one's position across contexts).[13] Broadly, theoretical research finds that status arising from membership in social categories is attenuated by having oppositely valued task ability or group memberships (e.g., a black woman with a law degree).[14] For instance, with respect to gender, experimental tests in this theoretical tradition have repeatedly found experimental evidence that women exhibit highly gendered deference behaviors only in the presence of men.[15][16][17] Other research finds that even the interactional disadvantages suffered by possessing a mental illness are attenuated when such people are also highly skilled on whatever task faces a group of people.[13] Although for disadvantaged groups, status disadvantage is not completely negated by positively valued information, their social status does not depend predominantly on any particular group membership. As such, research in this program has yet to identify a social characteristic that operates like a robust trans-situational master status.

Researchers in social network analysis have shown that one's affiliations can also be a source of status. Several studies document that being popular [18] or demonstrating dominance over peers [19] increases a person's status. Network studies of firms also find that organizations derive their own status in market contexts from the status of their affiliates, like corporate partners and investors.[1]

In different societiesEdit

Whether formal or informal, status hierarchies are present in all societies.[2] In a society, the relative honor and prestige accorded to individuals depends on how well an individual is perceived to match a society's goals and ideals (e.g., being pious in a religious society). Status sometimes comes with attendant rights, duties, and lifestyle practices.

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.[20][21] Achieved status, when people are placed in the stratification structure based on their individual merits or achievements, is thought to be reflective of modern developed societies. This image status can be achieved, for instance, through education, occupation, and marital status. Their place within the stratification structure is determined by society's standards, which often judges them on success in matching important values, like political power, academic acumen, and financial wealth.

In pre-modern societies, status differentiation is widely varied. In some cases it can be quite rigid, 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.

Status maintains and stabilizes social stratification. Mere inequality in resources and privileges is likely to be perceived as unfair and thus prompt retaliation and resistance from those of lower status, but if some individuals are seen as better than others (i.e., have higher status), then it seems natural and fair that high-status people receive more resources and privileges.[22] Historically, Max Weber distinguished status from social class,[23] though some contemporary empirical sociologists combine the two ideas to create socioeconomic status or SES, usually operationalized as a simple index of income, education and occupational prestige.

In nonhuman animalsEdit

Social status hierarchies have been documented in a wide range of animals: apes,[24] baboons,[25] wolves,[26] cows/bulls,[27] hens,[28] even fish,[29] and ants.[30] Natural selection produces status-seeking behavior because animals tend to have more surviving offspring when they raise their status in their social group.[31] Such behaviors vary widely because they are adaptations to a wide range of environmental niches. Some social dominance behaviors tend to increase reproductive opportunity,[32] while others tend to raise the survival rates of an individual’s offspring.[33] Neurochemicals, particularly serotonin,[34] prompt social dominance behaviors without need for an organism to have abstract conceptualizations of status as a means to an end. Social dominance hierarchy emerges from individual survival-seeking behaviors.

Status inconsistencyEdit

Status inconsistency is a situation where an individual's social positions have both positive and negative influences on his or her social status. For example, a teacher may have a positive societal image (respect, prestige) which increases their status but may earn little money, which simultaneously decreases their status.

Inborn and acquiredEdit

 
Social status is often associated with clothing and possessions. Compare the foreman with a horse and high hat with the inquilino in picture. Image from 19th century rural Chile.

Statuses such as those based on inborn characteristics, such as ethnicity or royal heritage, are called ascribed statuses. A stigma (such as a physical deformity or mental illness) can also be an attribute a person has possessed since birth, but stigmas can also be acquired later in life.[3] Either way, stigmas generally result in lower status if known to others.[13]

Social mobilityEdit

Status can be changed through a process of social mobility wherein a person changes position within the stratification system. A move in social standing can be upward (upward mobility), or downward (downward mobility). Social mobility is more frequent in societies where achievement rather than ascription is valued.

Social stratificationEdit

Social stratification describes the way people are placed or "stratified" in 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 a subculture 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 in a recognized system of social stratification.[35] Some of the more common bases for such stratification include:

Groups:

  • Wealth/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
  • Race/Ethnicity: Ties between persons of the same ethnic/racial group
  • Social class: Ties between persons born into the same economic group
  • Coolness: Ties between persons who have similar levels of popularity

Max Weber's three dimensions of stratificationEdit

The German sociologist Max Weber developed a theory proposing that stratification is based on three factors that have become known as "the three p's of stratification": property, prestige and power. He claimed that social stratification is a result of the interaction of wealth (class), prestige status (or in German Stand) and power (party).[36]

  • Prestige is 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.
  • Property refers to one's material possessions and their life chances. If someone has control of property, that person has power over others and can use the property to his or her own benefit.
  • Power is the ability to do what one wants, regardless of the will of others. (Domination, a closely related concept, is the power to make others' behavior conform to one's commands). This refers to two different types of power, which are possession of power and exercising power. For example, some people in charge of the government have an immense amount of power, and yet they do not make much money.

Max Weber developed various ways that societies are organized in hierarchical systems of power. These ways are social status, class power and political power.

  • Class Power: This refers to unequal access to resources. If you have access to something that someone else needs, that can make you more powerful than the person in need. The person with the resource thus has bargaining power over the other.
  • Social Status (Social Power): If you view someone as a social superior, that person will have power over you because you believe that person has a higher status than you do.
  • Political Power: Political power can influence the hierarchical system of power because those that can influence what laws are passed and how they are applied can exercise power over others.

There has been discussion about how Weber's three dimensions of stratification are more useful for specifying social inequality than more traditional terms like Socioeconomic Status.[37]

Status groupEdit

Max Weber developed the idea of "status group" which is a translation of the German Stand (pl. Stände). Status groups are communities that are based on ideas of lifestyles and the honor the status group both asserts, and is given by others. Status groups exist in the context of beliefs about relative prestige, privilege, and honor and can be of both a positive and negative sort. People in status groups are only supposed to engage with people of like status, and in particular, marriage inside or outside the group is discouraged. Status groups can include professions, club-like organizations, ethnicity, race, and other groups for which pattern association.[38]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ a b c Anderson, Cameron; Hildreth, John; Howland, Laura (2015). "Is the Desire for Status a Fundamental Human Motive? A Review of the Empirical Literature". Psychological Bulletin. 141 (3): 574–601. doi:10.1037/a0038781. PMID 25774679.
  3. ^ a b Pescosolido, Bernice; Martin, Jack (2015). "The Stigma Complex". Annual Review of Sociology. 41: 87–116. doi:10.1146/annurev-soc-071312-145702. PMC 4737963. PMID 26855471.
  4. ^ Sedikides, C.; Guinote, A. (2018). ""How Status Shapes Social Cognition: Introduction to the Special Issue,"The Status of Status: Vistas from Social Cognition". Social Cognition. 36 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1521/soco.2018.36.1.1.
  5. ^ Ridgeway, Cecilia L.; Correll, Shelley (2006). "Consensus and the Creation of Status Beliefs". Social Forces. 85: 431–453. doi:10.1353/sof.2006.0139.
  6. ^ Mazur, Allan (2015). "A Biosocial Model of Status in Face-To-Face Groups". Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychology: 303–315.
  7. ^ Veblen, Thornstein (1899). The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. MacMillan.
  8. ^ Mazur, Allan (2015), "A Biosocial Model of Status in Face-To-Face Groups", Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychology, Evolutionary Psychology, Springer International Publishing, pp. 303–315, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-12697-5_24, ISBN 9783319126968
  9. ^ Tiedens, Larissa Z. (2001). "Anger and advancement versus sadness and subjugation: The effect of negative emotion expressions on social status conferral". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 80 (1): 86–94. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.333.5115. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.80.1.86. ISSN 0022-3514. PMID 11195894.
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  11. ^ Robert Brym; John Lie (11 June 2009). Sociology: Your Compass for a New World, Brief Edition: Enhanced Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-495-59893-0.
  12. ^ Ferris, Kelly, and Jill Stein. "The Self and Interaction." Chapter 4 of The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. W. W. Norton & Company Inc, Dec. 2011. Accessed 20 September 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Lucas, Jeffrey; Phelan, Jo (2012). "Stigma and Status: The Interrelation of Two Theoretical Perspectives". Social Psychology Quarterly. 75 (4): 310–333. doi:10.1177/0190272512459968. PMC 4248597. PMID 25473142.
  14. ^ Berger, Joseph; Norman, Robert Z.; Balkwell, James W.; Smith, Roy F. (1992). "Status Inconsistency in Task Situations: A Test of Four Status Processing Principles". American Sociological Review. 57 (6): 843–855. doi:10.2307/2096127. ISSN 0003-1224. JSTOR 2096127.
  15. ^ Johnson, Cathryn (1993). "Gender and Formal Authority". Social Psychology Quarterly. 56 (3): 193–210. doi:10.2307/2786778. JSTOR 2786778.
  16. ^ Johnson, Cathryn (1994). "Gender, Legitimate Authority, and Leader-Subordinate Conversations". American Sociological Review. 59 (1): 122–135. doi:10.2307/2096136. JSTOR 2096136.
  17. ^ Johnson, Cathryn; Clay-Warner, Jody; Funk, Stephanie (1996). "Effects of Authority Structures and Gender on Interaction in Same-Sex Task Groups". Social Psychology Quarterly. 59 (3): 221–236. doi:10.2307/2787020. JSTOR 2787020.
  18. ^ Lynn, Freda; Simpson, Brent; Walker, Mark; Peterson, Colin (2016). "Why is the Pack Persuasive? The Effect of Choice Status on Perceptions of Quality". Sociological Science. 3: 239–263. doi:10.15195/v3.a12.
  19. ^ Faris, Robert (2012-06-01). "Aggression, Exclusivity, and Status Attainment in Interpersonal Networks". Social Forces. 90 (4): 1207–1235. doi:10.1093/sf/sos074. ISSN 0037-7732.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-04-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  22. ^ Ridgeway, Cecilia (2014). "Why status matters for inequality" (PDF). American Sociological Review. 79: 1–16. doi:10.1177/0003122413515997.
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  29. ^ Natalie Angier (1991-11-12). "In Fish, Social Status Goes Right to the Brain - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Archived from the original on 2014-05-06. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  30. ^ Wilson, E.O, The Insect Societies (1971) Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
  31. ^ Wilson, E.O, Sociobiology (1975, 2000) Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
  32. ^ Wrangham, R. and Peterson, D. (1996). Demonic males. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-87743-2.
  33. ^ Smuts, B.B., Cheney, D.L. Seyfarth, R.M., Wrangham, R.W., & Struhsaker, T.T. (Eds.) (1987). Primate Societies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-76715-9
  34. ^ Raleigh, Michael J. (1985). "Dominant social status facilitates the behavioral effects of serotonergic agonists". Brain Res. 348 (2): 274–82. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(85)90445-7. PMID 3878181.
  35. ^ McPherson, Miller; Smith-Lovin, Lynn; Cook, James M (2001-08-01). "Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks". Annual Review of Sociology. 27 (1): 415–444. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.415. ISSN 0360-0572.
  36. ^ Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters, translators and eds., (2015). Weber's Rationalism and Modern Society. Palgrave Macmillan.
  37. ^ Waters, Tony and Dagmar Waters 2016 Are the terms "socio-economic status" and "social status" a warped form of reasoning for Max Weber?" Palgrave Communications 2, Article number: 16002 (2016) Waters, Tony; Waters, Dagmar (2016). "Are the terms "socio-economic status" and "class status" a warped form of reasoning for Max Weber?". Palgrave Communications. 2. doi:10.1057/palcomms.2016.2.
  38. ^ Weber 48-56

Further readingEdit

  • Botton, Alain De (2004), Status Anxiety, Hamish Hamilton
  • Michael Marmot (2004), The Status Syndrome: How Social Standing Affects Our Health and Longevity, Times Books
  • Social status. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 17, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  • Stark, Rodney (2007). Sociology (10th ed.). Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 978-0-495-09344-2.
  • Gould, Roger (2002). "The Origins of Status Hierarchy: A Formal Theory and Empirical Test". American Journal of Sociology. 107 (5): 1143–78. doi:10.1086/341744.
  • McPherson, Miller; Smith-Lovin, Lynn; Cook, James M (2001). "Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks". American Journal of Sociology. 27: 415–44. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.27.1.415.
  • Bolender, Ronald Keith (2006). "Max Weber 1864–1920". LLC: Bolender Initiatives. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  • Chernoff, Seth David (2015). "What is Success".
  • Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, translated by Richard Nice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984.
  • Ridgeway, Cecilia (2014). "Why Status Matters for Inequality". American Sociological Review. 79 (1): 1–16. doi:10.1177/0003122413515997.
  • Weber, Max (2015) "Classes, Stände, Parties," pp. 37–58 in Weber's Rationalism and Modern Society: New Translations on Politics, Bureaucracy, and Social Stratification Edited and Translated by Tony Waters and Dagmar Waters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.