The term ‘status’ is used to designate the comparative amounts of prestige, difference or respect accorded to persons who have been assigned different roles in a group or community. The status of a person is high if the role he is playing is considered important by the group. If the role is less high, its performer may get a lower status. Therefore, the status of the individual is based on social evaluations.
Secord and Bukman define ‘status’ is the worth of a person as estimated by a group or a class of persons”. Mac Iver says that “Status is the social position that determines for its possessor, apart from his personal attribute or social services, a degree of respect, prestige and influence”.
According to Green, “A status is a position in a social group or grouping, in relation to other positions held by other individuals in the group or grouping.
Mack and Young say that “Status is one’s place or position in a given social structure”.
Different bases have been adopted from time to time for determining the status of persons. The status may be based “upon differences of birth, wealth, occupation, political power, race or intellectual attainment”. Sometimes two or more factors combine to determine the status. Further, the contribution of attributes to status may differ from group to group. Among the several bases for status the three ones have been enumerated by Secord and Bukman. They are:
1. The capacity of a person for rewarding those with whom he interacts.
1. 2. The extent to which he is receiving awards.
3. The type of costs he incurs, and his investments.
There are two processes by which the status of a person in society is formed. These are the processes of ascription and the process of achievement. There may be a society where .status is ascribed while in another society the status may be achieved. Every society makes use of both.
(a) Ascribed Status:
The status, which is bestowed upon the individual over which the individual has absolutely no choice. They are derived from membership in involuntary groups such as sex groups, age group, racial group etc. The child just after his birth receives the status is an example of ascribed status because the child has not achieved it. Status is mostly ascribed on the basis of following considerations.
An individual’s sex is a physiological fact. It appears at birth and remains so for life. Individuals are born as either males or females and remain so for life. This sex difference is taken as one of the bases of ascribing status to the individuals.
Like sex, age is also a visible physiological fact. All societies recognize differences in statuses and roles related to age. Age represents not static but a steadily changing condition. The age relationship between father and son, younger brother and elder brother etc. remain fixed through out life. But each individual is subject to different age statuses during his life span.
Kinship status reveals the individual’s, relation to his parents and siblings. The newborn infant’s status in the community is normally identified with that of the parents. Stupid parents may have wise children and vice-versa. Still it is socially convenient to relate the child to the society through the parents.
4. Other Bases:
In addition to sex, age and kinship there are also other status ascription. The racial status, regional status, national status, religious status, caste status etc. are ascribed status. Therefore the ‘accident of birth’ is universal and extremely important in society.
6. Achieved Status:
The statuses about which the person has some choice are achieved statuses. All societies have some, achieved statuses and no society depends completely on ascribed statuses. In modern societies, most of the occupational statuses are achieved. The statuses that require the possession of unusual talents are obviously thrown open.
Importance of Status
Status is a very important element in one’s own life. An individual wins respect in society by virtue of his social status. If proper status is not provided to, the individual he cannot be developed into a balanced integrated whole. The role of an individual changes along with his social status. An increase in the individuals social status entitles him to more respect that before. Modern man wants not only wealth but also a definite status. Status entitles a person to enjoy several prerogatives. For example in England, no one can file a. suit against the royal family. Thus, an individual gets many direct and indirect advantages train social status.