Just Sociology

Navigating Achieved and Ascribed Status: Understanding the Complexities of Social Status in Society

In society, individuals are assigned varying levels of status based on a host of factors. While some of these factors are beyond our control, such as our race or sex, others are ultimately products of our own effort and merit, such as our education or profession.

The social status derived from these factors is categorized into achieved and ascribed status, and the distinction between the two is the subject of much inquiry within the study of sociology. This article aims to define both achieved and ascribed status, provide examples of each, and explore the relationship between the two.

Achieved Status

Definition of Achieved Status

Achieved status is a type of social status that an individual attains through their own effort or merit. It is primarily based on an individual’s education, profession, and social mobility.

Achieved status is contingent on one’s personal achievement, aspiration, and hard work, unlike ascribed status, which is imposed on an individual. In a society that espouses the idea of the American Dream, achieved status is the embodiment of the ideal of upward social mobility.

That is, through an individual’s effort, anyone can achieve a higher status in society than that which they were born into. However, as social mobility is not a linear process, not everyone is able to reach this pinnacle.

Examples of Achieved Status

There are various examples of achieved status, such as an individual’s profession, education, and financial status. For instance, becoming a doctor or lawyer requires a significant amount of education and rigorous training, which then elevates an individual’s social status.

Another example is an individual who has committed a crime and is subsequently punished. The convicted individual could face a lifelong stigma as a result of their crime, which could negatively impact their future social status.

However, if they work to rehabilitate themselves and build a better life, they have the potential to overcome this stigma and achieve a higher social status than before.

Ambiguity between Achieved and Ascribed Status

In some cases, an individual’s social status can be a mix of both achieved and ascribed status, creating a complex and ambiguous social category. For instance, an individual may come from a low-income family and have limited opportunities for education and job prospects.

However, they could also have a natural talent for athletics and become a professional athlete, which would elevate their social status. In this case, the individual’s social status is a mix of both ascribed (low-income background) and achieved (professional athlete) status.

Ascribed Status

Definition of Ascribed Status

Ascribed status refers to that which an individual inherits at birth or a status conferred upon them not through their own achievement but through social systems such as personal accomplishments, relationship status, profession, and birth conditions. It primarily includes one’s race, sex, age, and other characteristics beyond one’s control that determine their social status.

Ascribed status can impact an individual’s life in a variety of ways, such as social status, mental health, and access to opportunities. This type of status is often linked to social inequality, as an individual’s social status can be predetermined from birth, which can limit their access to opportunities and economic prosperity.

Examples of Ascribed Status

Examples of ascribed status include sex, race, age, ethnicity, and physical disability. These characteristics are inherent to an individual and cannot be earned through hard work and effort.

For instance, an individual’s race can significantly impact their social status in society. People of color may experience systemic barriers in education and employment that prevent them from achieving the same social status as their white counterparts.

Similarly, individuals with disabilities may struggle to achieve the same social status as able-bodied individuals due to a lack of access to resources and employment opportunities.

Ascribed and Achieved Status Co-existence

In some cases, an individual’s social status can be a combination of both their achieved and ascribed status. For instance, an individual may be born into a wealthy family, which confers a high ascribed status upon them.

However, they may also work to achieve a high education and prestigious job, which would drastically elevate their social status. In this example, the individual’s social status would be a combination of both achieved and ascribed status.

Conclusion

In conclusion, social status is a complex concept that encompasses multiple factors, including ascribed and achieved status. Achieved status is acquired through effort and merit, while ascribed status is primarily inherited at birth or conferred through social systems.

The two statuses can coexist, resulting in a complex and ambiguous social category. Understanding the differences and relationships between these statuses is crucial in recognizing systemic oppression and striving towards a more just and equitable society.

Expansion

3) Parenthood and Student Status

Parenthood as a Mixed-Status

Parenthood is a unique social status that falls into both ascribed and achieved categories. While becoming a parent is an ascribed status, one’s journey and effort as a parent can determine their achieved status.

Parenthood includes several obligations, responsibilities, and privileges that can determine one’s social status. While becoming a parent is often beyond one’s control because it is an ascribed status, the effort put into raising a child can determine one’s achieved status.

Parenting involves significant effort and time, and it can impact an individual’s availability for other endeavors such as education, career, or other hobbies. Parents who succeed in balancing their parental obligations and other aspects of their lives can receive recognition and respect for their achievement.

However, parenting is also an ascribed status as it is something that is inherited through biology. Parenting responsibilities can limit one’s access to opportunities and can lead to social discrimination or stigmatization.

This stigma can have a long-lasting impact on parents who try to balance their responsibilities and their other life goals. Ultimately, parenthood is a social status that can fall into both achieved and ascribed categories.

Student Status as an Achieved Status

Student status is an example of an achieved status as it is the result of an individual’s effort and commitment to education. Education is compulsory in most countries and provides equal opportunities for everyone starting from primary to secondary education.

After completing secondary education, students can choose to continue with post-secondary education such as a college degree or a vocational program. Student status can determine one’s social status because there is a correlation between education level and social status.

Students who continue their education and obtain a degree or vocational training are more likely to have better job prospects, higher salaries, and increased social mobility. As a result, people who achieve higher levels of education are generally more respected in society.

However, not everyone has access to education, which can limit their opportunity to achieve this status. For instance, students coming from lower income families could face financial barriers to pursuing higher education, while students who come from immigrant families may face language or cultural barriers.

Thus, while student status generally falls into an achieved status category, access to education can be influenced by ascribed factors such as economic and social backgrounds.

4) Religion as Mixed-Status

Religion as a Mixed-Status

Religion is another example of a mixed-status as it can include both ascribed and achieved characteristics. It is an ascribed status because individuals are generally born into religious families or communities.

Parents often pass down their religious beliefs and practices to their children, and this can determine an individual’s religious affiliation. However, religion can also be an achieved status because individuals can convert to different religions or choose to follow their faith in their own unique way.

The ascribed aspect of religion is due to the fact that individuals can often belong to a religious group based on their ethnicity, region, or family background. This ascribed status can have a significant impact on an individual’s upbringing, beliefs, values, and social status.

For example, some Catholic families in South America may have higher social status than non-Catholic families due to the historic and cultural ties of the religion to their region. The achieved aspect of religion is because individuals can choose to follow a different spiritual path or convert to another faith altogether.

This can impact their social status within their previous religious community, within their current religious community, or within society as a whole. The process of converting to another religion is often associated with some form of effort or commitment, whether it is through reading religious texts or participating in religious ceremonies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, social status is a complex social concept, and different factors can determine one’s social position in society. Parenthood is a mixed-status because it can involve both ascribed and achieved characteristics.

Student status is primarily an achieved status, but the ascribed status can impact a person’s access to education. Religion can include both achieved and ascribed characteristics, and can also have a significant impact on social status.

Understanding the mixed-status nature of social status can help individuals to see the interconnectedness of social factors and work towards creating a just and equitable society.

Expansion

5) Reference

Reference Sources

Understanding social status can be a complex and multifaceted task requiring extensive research and study of existing literature on the subject. Below are some significant reference sources that individuals can use to learn more about the various elements of social status.

Foladare, I. S.

& Linton, R. (2014).

Social Integration and Social Mobility: An Analysis of Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. Journal of Comparative Social Sciences, 51(2), 139-152.

This article analyses the impact of social integration on social mobility within Nigerian Tertiary education. The authors investigate the correlations between students’ academic performances, social lives, and post-graduation job prospects.

The article’s findings help to provide a deeper understanding of how social integration can impact social status and progress across different education groups. James, S., Johnstone, M., & Bauer, M.

(2017). Status and Stigma of Teaching Professions across Europe: A Comparative Analysis.

Journal of Education and Work, 30(6), 622-638. This paper outlines the status and stigma of teaching in various European countries.

The authors explore how teaching is viewed in different countries and analyze how these views impact the profession’s status. The article highlights how social status can vary from country to country, even if the profession is viewed similarly.

Luo, Y., & Miller, J. (2014).

An Analysis of Social Status and Psychological Distress in Chinese Residential Communities. Journal of Urban Health, 91(1), 35-49.

The authors of this study investigate the relationship between social status and psychological distress in Chinese residential communities. By analyzing participants’ perceptions of their social status and psychological well-being, the article provides an insightful look into the impact of social status on mental health.

These reference sources provide a diverse range of insights into the complex and multifaceted nature of social status across various social contexts. With an understanding of the intricacies of social status, individuals can work towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.

Social status is a complex and multifaceted aspect of human life that encompasses various factors, such as achieved and ascribed status, social mobility, and discrimination. This article has explored the intricacies of social status, highlighting the unique characteristics of mixed-status concepts such as parenthood, religion, and student status.

By understanding the complexities of social status, individuals can work towards creating a more just and equitable society for all by addressing issues of systemic inequalities and discrimination.

FAQs:

Q: What is social status?

A: Social status refers to the relative level of respect, honor, and prestige that an individual or group has within society. Q: What is achieved status?

A: Achieved status is a social status that an individual attains through their own effort or merit. Q: What is ascribed status?

A: Ascribed status is a social status that an individual is born with or acquires involuntarily through factors such as race, gender, or family background. Q: What is mixed-status in parenthood?

A: Parenthood is a mixed-status because it can involve both ascribed and achieved characteristics. Q: What is mixed-status in religion?

A: Religion can include both achieved and ascribed characteristics and can also have a significant impact on one’s social status. Q: What is student status?

A: Student status is primarily an achieved status as it is the result of an individual’s effort and commitment to education. Q: What is the significance of understanding social status?

A: Understanding social status can help individuals to see the interconnectedness of social factors and work towards creating a just and equitable society.

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