When we are born into the world, we occupy a particular position in society. The standing one occupies in the society based on prestige is what we refer to as “social statuses”. Social status is easily affected by a number of factors such as educational background, wealth, occupation, family background etc. Every society we find ourselves in has a hierarchical social structure. This means that people are divided into social classes which are valued differently in the society. Nowadays due to civilization and human rights the rigid social class system which did not allow someone to change his/her social status is no longer in practice.
Society now is more open to a change in social status through talent, hard work, education, marriage etc. There are now a lot of opportunities that can make someone easily change his or her social status. The ideal society should allow everyone to be equally valued irrespective of their occupation, family background or income levels etc.
A typical example that will help us understand what social status is outlined below. Cornell is a 40 year old Nigerian male. He was born into a family of average working class parents, who are civil servants working with the government. He read engineering and is now working, went for his doctorate degree overseas and is now working in an oil company in Nigeria. He is married to his long time love benign, blessed with three kids and has also been given the title of a chief in his community. Cornell is also an author who loves writing no wonder he has published a lot of research work. He also believes in acquiring more knowledge in his related field of study so to buy research paper is one of his hobbies, as he explores online sites that different research publishers post their work.
If we want to examine the social status of Cornell, we would find out that he is an engineer, academic doctor, father, husband, titled chief. These are different statuses occupied by Cornell. From the stated example, we can talk about the different types of social status i) Ascribed status ii) Achieved status
- Ascribed status: Ascribed status refers to the social status of a person earned from birth or assumed in life. Ascribed status is one that is out of your control. It includes your sex, socio-economic status. This status is not achieved on the basis of your merit or skills. Example if you are born into a wealthy family that has a known name in your community, area or state. You start to earn popularity and respect through the social community and environment. People give you that high regard as someone from a wealthy family.
- Achieved status: Achieved status is a position that someone holds based on your choice or merit earned through hard work. For you to have an achieved status, they are certain criteria that must be met. Take for example to achieve the status of a medical doctor, you must go to school, gain admission into college and graduate from a medical school. It doesn’t stop there as you must complete a residency and internship before you are regarded as a medical practitioner.
Haven’t known about the types of status we have, let us look at the nature of social status
- Status can be identified by external symbols: A person’s status can be identified by mode of dressing. Doctors, soldiers, priests are identified by their specific uniforms. Also the sex status of humans can be differentiated by clothing.
- Norms are what governs social status: they are general norms practiced in the society like honesty and truthfulness. But when it comes to situations they do not apply. People in different status are forced to violate certain norms. Example a trader would always increase the price of his or her goods to make profit. A footballer would always want the advantage of his/her team no matter the circumstance.
- An individual may possess several statuses: in modern society an individual can possess different status. A student can as well still be an employer etc. A bus driver can as well be a car owner. Just as Cornell is an engineer, titled chief, father and husband.
- Status influences the career of an individual: Some certain statuses are defined to a particular region or society. Example a Chinese cannot aspire to be a native doctor because such a career is not identified in its area but related to the traditional African religion.
- Statuses add to social order and stability: Have you wondered why professors are given much honor and respect especially in the African society. The view here is that it is not easy to attain such status because they are believed to have passed through a lot of academic work. This includes writing and publishing a lot of books related to their field. If you need access to such materials then you have to buy research paper as they aren’t free but mind you, a lot would be gained from such works. They also write a lot of literary work related to their field and of course you can’t have free access to them. They must have also attained their bachelor’s and master’s degree. The status of a professor is one that commands respect in society. Also other status like soldiers, doctors, engineers all have a social structure and role to play. They help also in bringing orderliness and stability to the society.