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Ascribed Status Essay


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.

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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.

Achieved status

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.

Master 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 Quarterly10(1), 53-61.

Neeley, T. B. (2013). Language matters: Status loss and achieved status distinctions in global organizations. Organization Science24(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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Ascribed vs Achieved Status

Sometimes, we think that only certain studies, courses, and even degrees that we take only allow us to define terminologies. There are just certain things in life that we need to learn about and be informed about so when the time comes and it could be applied, we know what to do, and how to use it. Take for instance the terms: ascribed and achieved. Little did we know that there is actually a difference between both terms. In fact, in this article, we will be discussing the differences between an ascribed status and an achieved status.

Let’s define each first.

Ascribed status

An ascribed status is a type of status that is assigned. It may also be given. It is a type of status that is given or handed as a result of inheritance. Let’s list some examples. If you are an Asian woman, or a Hindi woman, in their society they have a ranking; hence, say, for example, when voting, men are allowed to vote first. This is their ascribed status. Although, in this current day and age, there may have been changes, but that is not a part of our discussion. More often, society dictates the ascribed status to a given individual.

An ascribed status is mostly based on the individual’s age, sex, gender, race, tradition, and even caste system from where the individual lives and grew up.

An ascribed status is rigid, unbending, and is, quite naturally, not easy to change. It occupies respect in very traditional society.

Achieved status

An achieved status, on the other hand, is something that that comes to you because you earned it. It is something that you earn because of what you have done, because of what you have accomplished. It is something that you earned through an activity that you have done. There are preconditions to obtaining an achieved status. Once you have fulfilled such conditions, you would have earned this status. This is why the achieved status is as synonymous to personal accomplishments as one would have acquired such status from a competition, for example.

An achieved status is mostly based on the individual’s qualities, his capabilities, and the individual’s potential, as well as his abilities.

When you talk of an achieved status, it is not quite so stable as it is self-changing. In modern societies that would be more open to change, the achieved status has more importance because its basis is more on the personal qualities and what a person can achieve, as opposed to an ascribed status.

In summary:

An ascribed status is more what society dictates; hence, it tells of a person’s status because of traditions, customs, and what a certain society would have been pre-determined even before birth.
An achieved status is more of a personal achievement, an individual’s potentials that would allow him to achieve a certain status because of what he is capable of doing and achieving.
An ascribed status is rigid because of its basis, while an achieved status is permissive and accepting due to the capabilities of the individual.

When you take a closer look at the differences between an ascribed status and an achieved status, you would immediately come to the conclusion that society, no matter how far and remote you deem it to be, as it doesn’t play a close proximity to your day-to day-existence, does actually participate in an individual’s life, without us seemingly being aware of it. Who would’ve thought that it is such an integral part of one’s life? What’s more, when you grow up or become a part of a society that somehow dictates to one’s social standing, it is quite a challenge to be able to rise up and achieve a status that you are yearning for. Then again, once you do, the sweet success of achieving it is worth all the time and effort.

Celine. "Differences Between Ascribed and Achieved Status." DifferenceBetween.net. September 28, 2017 < http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/legal-miscellaneous/differences-between-ascribed-and-achieved-status/ >.

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