Sociological Concepts Status

Social status is prevalent in every society. However, this does not mean that all social statuses are the same. In fact, social roles, which are derived from these statuses, can vary between subsets of people. This does not diminish the important place that social status has in society.

Social status has formed out of a human need to categorize that which surrounds it. This is due to a need to make quick decisions, in order to survive. By sorting the people around  into groups, one can decide in a single factor may pose a threat. A popular example of social status is the nerd/jock foil, which is often employed in Hollywood movies. In these movies, the “jock” often poses a physical threat to the “nerd.” To avoid this threat, the “nerd” uses the qualities associated with the “jock” social status to form a decision about future interactions. If the new acquaintance appears to be a member of the “jock” status, the “nerd” can decide to avoid further interaction. If not, the “nerd” may pursue further communication.

From birth, children are assigned a social status. These social statuses often relate to the child’s parents’ social standing and wealth. For instance, the child of a wealthy banker will have a higher social status than the child of bellhop. This social status may be detrimental to a child’s future, such as the child born to a poor family which cannot afford a full education, or it may benefit it, such as an affluent child whose parents may have beneficial connections. Due to these social constructs, a social status can directly impact a child’s future.

In modern societies, social status is significantly varied not only among social groups, but among people. In one social situation, a CEO might be held in the highest esteem, for his wealth and sharp business wit. However, in anarchist circles, a CEO may hold the lowest position, because the majority disagrees with his business practices. Within the anarchist group, one person may hold the man above a common worker, because the worker contributed to the cause. However, another may have the CEO at the very bottom, because the CEO controlled the incentive, and used it for personal gain. These differing views prevent social status from obtaining concrete rewards from all of society. Instead, the owners of that role must rely on political social constructs to maintain their position.

Overall, social status is a construct which varies greatly; not only from society to society, but from person to person. To simply put it, a status is the place one occupies in society, in relation to other people. One person can hold multiple statuses in society, often in a single situation. As a result, people are trained to switch seamlessly between statuses, often in miniscule amounts of time. People are also able to change statuses; either through misfortune or fortune, for better or worse results. Every society has social statuses, even those which have attempted to do away with them. It is simply a part of human nature.