Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Achieving Social Status

All the individuals possess certain positions in the groups and society with which they are affiliated. These positions depend upon the duties they perform. These duties which create different positions for them are called roles. A status or social position is a polar position socially attributed to a member of a group. And social role is the dynamic aspect of the corresponding status. Status is simply a collection of rights and duties. It is a cultural value attainable through the prescribed ways of behavior called social roles.
Status can be both ascribed and achieved. Ascribed status is the position which is assigned to individuals by culture, without reference to their innate abilities. Such status is attached with the physical existence of the individual. For instance, caste, age and sex are the ascribed statuses of the individual. They do not change and are mostly permanent in nature. They begin with the life and end with its end. Suppose a person is father of two children, brother of a particular person, father-in-law of another one, grandfather of his grandson and belong to a particular caste. These are a few of the ascribed statuses of that person.
There are certain determinants of ascribed status. These include ancestry, sex, caste and age. The honor of a person’s ancestry rests on legitimacy or illegitimacy, respect of the family and caste system. These are the factors of ascribed status. A child born in royal family is ultimately called a prince.
Biologically the sexes have different status in the society. The male is given higher position in order of status as compared to a female. This disparity of status is even wider in rural areas.
Castes is another important element of status. Especially in rural areas, caste becomes the most important factor. The people attach caste with their names for distinction in community. Some castes are given higher status; while some others are considered lower in rank, which marks a divide among the castes.
Moreover, it has been observed that aged people are given more respect and honor in most of the societies. On the other hand, youth are treated more affectionately and casually. These two different kinds of expressions and treatment of society towards two different age groups is because of their age group.   
Achieved status on the other hand requires specific qualities from the individuals in role performance. These are not assigned to individuals by birth but are left open for competition and individual efforts. Culture provides certain ways and means for the achievement of certain status. The people compete each other to achieve that status. To become part of the parliament, for example, a person has to qualify certain preliminary conditions of nationality and candidature and win elections of the corresponding constituency. This is an example of achieved status. The university would not give degree to a person until he qualifies for all the conditions of the degree – study of the prescribed courses, and pass the proposed examinations. Hence to attain the status of degree holder, he will have to pass through the processes of time, money and labor. His efforts in this direction are his roles for the corresponding degree. Certain qualities and capabilities are required here to attain an achieved status.
Society does not assign status to people randomly. There is criteria of social approval or disapproval, honor or dishonor to people in societies. Generally, these are contained in social values. Those items of social life to which the people think important and worthwhile are the determinants of social status.
Economic resource is one of the most important determinants of a person’s social status. The economic possession of an individual can be measured and counted in easy terms and guessed easily as what status he enjoys in society. The more someone is economically resourceful, the greater the status he enjoys in the society.
Moreover, in our society the type of occupation by which one earns money is an important question. For example, the sweepers, brokers, barbers, cobblers and other menial servants are mostly considered inferior to the business owners, government officers and others.
In certain societies, higher education is a mark of respect in society. The degrees and certificates held from college and university are symbols of status for the holder. Education itself is an end-value, and sometimes a mean for higher social prestige.
The last but not the least is the power. Power is the ability to control or influence the behavior of others. Those who attain more power in the society are treated more respectfully and their status is considered higher. For example, a police man is regarded more respectable compared to a school teacher. It is just because of the difference introduced by power.
A society would be considered a better society that would have more respect for achieved status, but that must be based on a person’s hard work, capabilities and talents.