Social Status full explained overview part-1


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Q1. Explain the concept of social status. How is it determined?

Ans. Social status. Social status generally speaking is a place of an individual or a person in society. In other words, it is a place of an individual in the intricate system of social relations. Before we go into a detailed study of these topics, it shall be useful if we properly understand the meaning of these terms.

Social Status full explained overview
Social Status full explained overview

Definition and social status meaning in English.

Social status as already stated is the place of an individual in the intricate structure of social relations. It has been defined by different sociologists in different ways.

(i) Social status as defined by Maclver and Page “Stage is the social position that determines for its possessor apart from its personal attribute or social service, a degree of respect, prestige and influence.”

(ii) Social status as defined by Ogburn and Nimkoff. “A person’s status in his group standing or ranking in relation to others.”

(iii) Martindale and Monachesi’s definition of social status:

“We define status as a position in social or aggregate identified with the pattern of prestige, symbols, and actions.”

(iv) Lapier’s definition of social status.Social status is commonly thought of as the position which the individual has in the society.”

(v) Social status as defined by Kimball Young “In every society and every group each member has some function with which he is associated and which carries with it some degree of power and prestige. The degree of prestige or power is referred to as status.”

Characteristics of social status –

Social status has the following characteristics:

(a) It is nothing but a place of an individual within the group.

(b) There is an element of prestige attached to every status, the higher the element of prestige the higher the status.

(c)Work and sometimes birth determines the status. (d) The influence that a person exercises on other members of the group and determines the social status.

(e) Culture also determines social status.

Determination of Social Status – There are various factors that determine social status. As we have already seen social status has a relative difference. Some get better status and others less. There are various factors responsible for this higher and comparatively lower position. Generally following factors as enumerated by Linton

(a) Age and sex, (b) Occupation, (c) Prestige, (d) Family, (e) Association groups.

(a) Age and sex – In some of the societies enjoy better social status. Those who are older give more respect. On the other hand, in some societies, sex also has its own relative importance. In some groups, men enjoy better positions while other women get a better status. In some other primitive societies, it is the women who rule.

(b) Occupation – Occupation of certain individuals carries more importance and capacity to influence people. Because of this, they get a better status.

(c) Prestige – Some individuals, because of their education, cultural background, or other factor get better prestige. This carries with it higher social status.

(d) Family – In some of the societies and groups, the background of the family carries with it higher social status. Some people, who belong to high families are given more respect because of their blood.

(e) Association groups – Certain association groups give more status to those individuals that are more useful to them. On the other hand, these association groups, according to their importance, carry better status for their members.

Kinds of social statusSocial status is of different kinds. Some of them get their status by birth while others acquire it. For example, the son of a king gets the status due to his birth while a member of the administration Service acquires it by competing successfully at the examination. In other words, the status may be of two kinds:

(a) Inborn, (b) Acquired.

Inborn Status is the result of birth and the family background. The Acquired Status is earned through hard work and by sheer dint. of merit.

Classification of status according to Hiller-Hiller has laid down the following three kinds of social status.

(a) Ascribed status, (b) Assumed status, (c) Achieved status.

(a) Ascribed status – This is the status that is given by certain individuals to an individual. For this status, the person to whom the status is ascribed must agree to it. Society plays an important role in determining this status. For example in Indian society, birth determines the status of an individual.

(b) Assumed status – By this status, we mean the status that is acquired by an individual by his own-self. The duties and the responsibilities that are attached to this status are also chosen by the individual himself.

(c) Achieved status – This status is achieved by the individual, through his or her own efforts. This status has a relationship with the desire and wishes of a person. For example, if a person wants to become a Member of the Parliament he has to achieve it by work and effort.

Social Status full explained overview
Social Status full explained overview

Importance of social behavior – Social status has an important role to play in society and social behavior. If a person of higher status guides others correctly he may lead the society to a proper place. There are certain symbols of respect that bring recognition to social status. This gives an opportunity for others to acquire those symbols.

The role of an individual also changes with social status. Those who have higher social status have to work more and discharge greater responsibilities towards society.

It also leads to the division of labor. Through social status, people are able to divide their work and responsibility.

Q.2. What is social status? What is its importance?

Ans. The concepts of role and status occupy a central place in the analysis of the social structure. The interaction between individuals and groups very much depends upon the proper functioning according to

role and status. The concepts of role and status were initially used by common men and women everywhere long before the anthropologists and sociologists started any discussion upon them. It is so since every society must classify its population according to kinship, profession, sex; Jobs, functions, and other types. Each society must have some form of division of labor and a most rudimentary form of division of labor includes a classification according to status and role. 

You may read also:-

Social stratification 

ba llb notes for 1st sem sociology.

Meaning of Status · 

Some of the more important definitions of status are as follows:

(1) A defined position in the social structure that is distinguished from and at the same time related to other positions. Each status is linked to a social role, that is, a pattern of behavior expected of one who occupies a status.”

(2) “Status is a position in a social system.”

(3) Social status may be defined as, “(i) A ranked position in a social hierarchy or stratification system, (ii) An individual’s social landing in society.”

(4) “The term status, like the term culture, has come to be used with a double significance. A status, in the abstract, is a position in a particular pattern …. A status, as distinct from the individual who may occupy it is simply a collection of rights and duties.”

  • Thus status and roles are interdependent. Each status consists of many related roles. “The set of roles associated with a single status is called a role set.” There is no complete agreement throughout society about expectations of each status. 

Status and Society

Social organizations consist of status and roles. Most people are accustomed to talking in terms of ‘status’ while referring to various particular people and qualifying this term

by the more common words. such as higher and lower. One often hears of an improvement in the status of women, of Shudras, of the brahmins in Hindu society and of the white and black-skinned men and women in Western countries. Now, what is this status? As indicated by the term itself, it implies the

status or place of an individual in society. And, what is society? It is a web of social relationships. Hence social status is the position of an individual within social relationships. As is evident, this can be both high as well as low. Hence there is an order of social status in society. In Hindu society, Brahmins are much respected and considered superior to other castes besides being awarded many special privileges thus their

social status is high. On the other hand, the so-called untouchable caste of Hindu society is given less respect than the Brahmins and have fewer rights. Hence their low social status.

In Hindu society, the status of the Brahmins is at a higher level than that of the Shudra. The leader is at the top of a group. This status will be his ranking in relation to other positions and will be called high or low accordingly. Social status is to be recognized by’ a pattern of prestige symbols and actions. For example, within the same college, the status of the principal and the teachers are different. How is this difference expressed? All the teaching staff ostensibly respect him and he is greeted wherever he may happen to go. In his presence,

the teachers leave their chairs and address him in the most respectful terms. This is an example of prestige symbols. Now, consider the pattern of functions. The principal keeps an eye on the work of each of the teachers, maintains order among them, and directs them from time to time.

There is a distinct pattern of prestige symbols related to the principal’s status. This pattern differs from the pattern of prestige symbols and actions related to the teachers. The difference in the status of both is evident from this difference in their respective patterns. Some proportion of an individual’s respect, prestige, and influence is determined by his social status.

In a family, the social status of the husband and wife can be gauged from the influence which one has on the other as well as from the prestige or respect that one of them receives from the other. According to this one can measure the difference in the social status of husband and wife that exists in different societies. In the villages of India, the status of the sarpanch is the highest. He is greeted with respect wherever he may have the chance to wander. In the meetings of the village, he is

scaled upon the highest pedestal. He mediates in the mutual quarrels of the villagers, who respect his decisions and judgments. In this way, the social status of an individual is that particular position in his relations with other individuals by virtue of which he is the recipient of respect and prestige and wields influence and which can be recognized by symbols of prestige accruing to him and his actions.

Social Status full explained overview
Social Status full explained overview

Determination of Status

How is the status determined? Before going into a detailed discussion of this, it is necessary to know that there are two types of

status. Some states are due to office or title such as the post of a college principal and village sarpanch. In the case of such posts, the social status

is determined by the office occupied or held just as the person, who occupies the chair of the principal is accorded he respects in accordance with the position. The rights and duties of a district magistrate do not

change with every new magistrate because these duties, rights, and symbols of respect are related to the magistrate’s chair or office and are inherent therein. Besides these, some status derives from the family, physical capability, knowledge or skill, etc., of the individual. For example, some roles and respect symbols are related to the post of the country’s Prime Minister. The social status which Mr. Nehru had in India was not due entirely to his occupying the post of Prime Minister but rather to the qualities of his character, patriotism, knowledge, and skill.

The social status of Dara Singh is due to his skill in wrestling, that of Vinobaji due to social services rendered by him while the social status of Tenzing is due to his having conquered Everest. In this way, physical beauty or prowess, skill in music, scientific knowledge, cultural excellence, etc., or other special qualities attainable by human beings raise the status of an individual. The social status of film actresses is due mainly to their physical charms. When a poor boy studies hard and qualifies for the I.A.S., the status of his family is raised at the same time as his own. The daughter of a rich man loses her status when she is married into a poorer family. But factors and causes which determine status change according to the time and place to which they belong. In ancient India, it was the varna which determined the social status. In some primitive societies, the social status of an individual bears a direct and proportional relation to the number of wives he has. The more wives he has, the better is his social status. In some tribes, the social status of women increases with every new divorce that she gets. According to some, the determinant of the social status of an individual is his financial condition. This theory is completely one-sided. In India, the social status enjoyed by Gandhi, Dayanand, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore, Premchand, and others was not due to their economic condition.

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