What Is Status? Definition, Features, & Types - Tyonote

What is Status? Definition, Features, Types, Ascribed Vs. Achieved Status

What is Status?

Status refers to the position or the rank one holds in a social group, and, role refers to the specific functions that one is supposed to do in that social group. Every status holder is a role performer.

Status and Role are inter-connected. In a social group, every member has a status role position.

Sociology says in any society, an individual may have occupational statuses like a driver, teacher, doctor, etc., and family statuses like son, daughter, father, etc. Generally, statuses are culturally and socially defined, but they are sometimes defined biologically, like sex and race. Some statuses (positions) are relatively fixed and there is little an individual can change his particular positions. E.g. gender and aristocratic positions cannot be changed.


  • Ralph Linton defines it as, “the status is the place in a particular system, which a certain individual occupies at a particular time.”
  • Morris Ginsberg says, “A status is a position in a social group or grouping, a relation to other positions held by other individuals in the group or grouping.”

Characteristic/Essential Elements of Status

  • Statuses in society are accompanied by a number of norms that define how an individual occupying a particular position is expected to act. This group of norms is known as role.
  • It is determined by the cultural situation of the particular society.
  • One individual may have several statuses such as father, husband, teacher, etc.
  • It is determined only in relevance to other members of society.
  • It carries with it some prestige or leaves an impression on the career of individuals.
  • Statuses differ with their degree of importance, e.g. the importance of occupational statuses in industrial countries differs as in the case of a professor and a peon. Another e.g. is the importance of caste-based occupational status in Nepal such as the blacksmith and priest.
  • Statuses of people may be divided into various categories. These categories or statuses are not imposed from above. Some of these statuses are achieved while others are ascribed.
  • Social status has a hierarchical form where some persons occupy the highest position while others occupy the ordinary statuses in society.

Types of statuses

There are two ways in which an individual can get his status in society. Some statuses are acquired by birth whereas others are achieved later in one’s life. Ralph Linton distinguished it as:

Ascribed Status

These are the statuses in which the individual has no choice as they get it through birth or by placement in a social group. E.g. a person may enjoy ascribed status because of sex or age or due to birth in a rich family. An infant gets a family status which includes family name and prestige, and right of heritage.

Basis: The ascribed status is based on age, sex, kinship race, family, etc. In almost every society, particularly in a patriarchal society, it is the elder men who are respected but in the matriarchal system of society, elder women are respected.

Since it is determined by birth, Brahmin are given higher status as compared to Sudras and people said to be belonging to an honorable class are given a better form of it than the people of the ordinary class.

Achieved Status

These are the statuses on which the individual has choices, as a person has earned out of his own personal efforts, ability, and capacity. For E.g. a son of a farmer when completes a degree in engineering has acquired the achieved status.

Basis: It is based on personal ability, education, earned wealth, etc. A person who can display his ability in the field of social service, sports, education, etc. is given a higher and better status.


These are the statuses that can be considered a mixture of achievement (achieved) and ascription (ascribed). In society, some people achieve certain statuses because of an ascribed status. E.g. Anmol K.C. is probably the most famous movie celebrity in Nepal. Many people might argue that he would never have achieved that status if he had not come from a family of the movie star, which is his ascribed status.

Differences between Ascribed and Achieved Status

The differences and relationship between the two may be discussed as under:

It is a gift from society to individual members.It is the gift of one’s personal accomplishments and personal characteristics
There is no precondition for getting this,
for example; the elder in the family is
bound to be respected. There is no qualification required.
For this, certain conditions are
namely ability, efficiency, economic
status, etc. are necessary.
Generally, it is based on age, race, caste, kinship, etc.It is based on characteristics like
capacities and abilities etc.
It is more stable and more rigid. Its basis does not change easily.It has an unstable basis and so it is
itself changeable.
It occupies a place of respect in a traditional society.In open and modern societies it is
achieved a status that is given importance
because in this respect, it is the personal qualities
and achievements that matter.
Regarding it, the role of the action is more
or less predictable because it is based on
It can be helpful to a person in achieving
a certain thing or acquiring the achieved status.
It has a vital relationship with the internal aspects of the personality.In relevance to it, it cannot be said that
there shall be a co-relationship between the achieved status and the role.
It can be helpful to a person for achieving
a certain thing or acquiring the achieved status.
It helps acquire the ascribed
It has greater relationships with the customs,
traditions, and other existing factors of the
society. In other words, it is more
It is the result of personal accomplishments
and is acquired as a result of competition.
It has no relationship with customs
and traditions.

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