Ascribed, Achieved, and Master Statuses
Social status develops one’s social status in an organization, a group, or society. Sociologists argue that every individual has a social status irrespective of the power or rank they hold. Status describes how persons fit the social structure that includes family, business, school, society among others. Status can be categorized into ascribed status, achieved status and master status. For instance, ascribed status refers to the social status that people take on involuntarily. Ascribed status is beyond one’s control. Such status includes sex, socio-economic status, especially at birth and race (Foladare, 1969, 54). On the other hand, achieved status refers to the social status that people choose to obtain or earn. Ideally, achieved status reflects one’s efforts, life choices and abilities. Master status relates to a person view oneself. It arises from the ascribed and achieved roles. In essence, master status overrides both achieved and ascribed status. Master status is crucial for social identity, and it shapes one’s entire life that can be achieved or ascribed status.
Ascribed status is beyond the individual’s control, people are born with it, they do not earn. Notably, ascribed status determines the roles the people perform. Ascribed status describes a social position that is assigned to an individual by the society despite individual’s unique characteristics or talents (Pant & Oslon, 2009, 18). For instance, a male person aged 20 years like me is expected to perform certain roles in the society. Ascribed status demands that a person over 22 years of age should start a family; the societal setting demands at a certain age a man is expected to leave his parents and start his family. Role strain refers to the tension that arises when one is subjected to a single role with numerous statuses. For example, the desire to do the assignment and at the same time preparing to visit a friend results in role strain. On the other hand, Role conflict refers to the tension that arises when an individual experiences multiple roles with multiple statuses. For example, visiting a mother who is at the hospital and wishing to attend friend’s marriage ceremony best describes a role conflict scenario.
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An undergraduate class scenario is an example of role strain as a result achieved status. Achievement of the highest GPA guarantees scholarship funds for masters. Similarly, the best scores in papers and exams make other classmates feel irritated thus increasing one’s stress (Pant & Oslon, 2009, 20). Having $500 only a wife requires funds to purchase new clothing to start a new job and at the same time son requires the same amount to pay school fees is the best example of role conflict triggered by achieved status.
When a person is expected to fulfill two duties simultaneously presents a role conflict. For example, I am a football coach, and I want my son to play regardless of his skills. Preferring my son to play with other players who have good skills is an example of master status role conflict (Foladare, 1969, 54). Similarly, role strain unfolds when an individual finds difficult to meet responsibilities in life. For example, I am a student and working; my supervisor insists that I work until late hours; this interferes with my class work because I have examinations on the following day. The scenario presents a role strain scenario. Role strain causes most difficulty regarding role exit because at the end of one has to sacrifice at least one duty at the expense of the other.
Foladare, I. S. (1969). A Clarification of “Ascribed Status’ and “Achieved Status”. The Sociological Quarterly, 10(1), 53-61.
Neeley, T. B. (2013). Language matters: Status loss and achieved status distinctions in global organizations. Organization Science, 24(2), 476-497.
Pant, R., & Olson, P. G. (2009). Adolescent self-esteem and sexual behavior: The role of ascribed and achieved status.
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