Status and roles in sociological concept

Status and role in sociological concept

Social Status and role

The influential writing of Ralph Linton (1936) made Status and role a fundamental concept of sociology. According to the RL, Status is meant by the position of a person in society or social system, while by role, he represents a person’s behavior.

Every Status achieved or inherited designated rights and obligations. People patterned some expectations according to the Status. ‘Status’ and ‘Role’ are two of the same phenomena. Ralph remarked that “role is the dynamic aspect of status.”

Status is power or prestige. Roles are related to Status. In every community, group, or society, each member has some activities and functions associated with some degree of power.

Well, R.K.Merton (1968), the champion of role theory, said each social Status involves not a single associated role but a ‘role set’ an array of roles. Status and role are the basic building blocks of social structure. Parson says that ‘Status-Roles’ are the sub-units of the social system. Participation as an actor in society is his Status; what he does, he does various things is his role. A social system is a good network of Status and their roles.

Define Status in sociology

  • “Status is the place in a particular system, which a certain individual occupies at a particular time” (Ralph Linton)
  • “A status is a position in a social grouping, a relation to other positions held by other individuals in the group” (Morris Ginsberg)
  • “Status is a position in the general institutional system, recognized and supported by entire society.” (Kinsley Davis)
  • “Status is the rank of an individual in a society of group” (Horton and Hunt)
  • “Status is the esteem or ‘Social honor’ which is given to the individual or groups” (Weber)

Types of Status in sociology

According to Ralph Linton, there are two types of Status.

Ascribed Status

The social position assigned at birth and usually permanent position is called ascribed Status. An Ascribed status in which a person is born has to remain throughout life, e.g., sex, age, race, and caste.

An Ascribed status is beyond the individual’s hand and assigned without reference or abilities such as family’s social status, age, gender, etc.

Achieved Status

The Status achieved by struggle or chosen is called an achieved status, e.g., doctor, engineer, teacher, and advocate. The Achieved Status acquired through efforts. And requiring unique qualities is not fixed by biological characteristic, inheritance. In achieved Status, an individual has control to achieve or change the Status.

Achieved and ascribed statuses have many similarities and differences. Both statuses affect groups’ and person’s roles both industrially and socially. They each involve a person’s character and the public’s perception of them.

How is the term ‘Master statuses’ defined?

Well, another concept of Status is ‘Master Status.’ The term master status is defined as “a status that has exceptional importance for social identity, often shaping a person’s entire life.” Master status may be ascribed or achieved. For example, occupation or physical disabilities serve as a master status both affects the person’s entire life.

What is a role in sociology?

Role in sociology is the behavior expected of an individual who occupies a given status or social position. The comprehensive pattern of socially recognized behavior is called role. It provides a means of identifying and placing an individual in a social system. The role also serves as a strategy for coping with others’ roles and recurrent situations.

The term role is rented from theatrical usage. It emphasizes the distinction between part and actor. The role remains stable though different people occupy the position. One individual assigned the role of the doctor, like any actor in the role of Hamlet, and expected to behave in a particular way. An individual may have an exclusive style. Well, this is exhibited within the probable behavior’s boundaries.

Role expectations contain both actions and persona. A teacher may be estimated to deliver lectures, prepare examinations and assign homework. But also to be honest, responsible, dedicated, and concerned.

Individuals generally engage in several positions, which may or may not be companionable with each other. One person may be a father, an artist, patient, writer, or husband. Each role entails certain obligations, duties, privileges, and rights.

Definition role

  • “A set of socially expected and approved behavior patterns consisting of both duties and privileges, associated with a particular position in a group.” (Ogburn and Nimkoff)
  • “Role is expectations and obligations held by other member concerning the behavior of the position incumbent” (Johnson)
  • “The set of expected or normative rights and obligations allowed to and demanded of persons generally felt to be incumbent of a recognized status by others who participate in the same social system” (Alex Inkles)

Status VS Role

Ralph Linton described that ‘You occupy a status, but you play a role. Status and role are the two sides of a coin. Both are gone side by side and interrelated. Every position or Status in a Social group carries a set of expected behavior patterns.

Statuses and roles are essential elements of social structure. Young and Mack say, “A role is the function of status.”

An individual has to perform the role according to his Status. Sometimes an individual plays many roles simultaneously, and according to his role, he gets Status. Similarly, the Status gives him a definite role. Statuses may be ascribed or achieved. Well, Status and role are both interconnected.

Roles are played statuses are occupied. An individual plays a role vis-a-vis another person’s role, attached to a ‘counter-position.’ Status is a sociological concept and sociological phenomenon. On the other hand, the role is a concept and social psychology phenomenon.

Role changes with each new incumbent in a status. The status changes as the norms attached to it are altered. New obligations and responsibilities may be added to Status, or old ones may be removed over time. Sometimes more rigorous role-playing may expand the functions of a status.

Though Status and role are co-related, it is possible to have one without the other. A status without a role may denote an unfulfilled position in an association. In the same way, roles are often played without occupying a status.

The structure of society consists of statuses and not roles. It has become regularized, standardized, and formalized in society or any specific association with the community. It is statuses and norms that give order, predictability, and even possibility to social relations.

At the end

Therefore, the concepts of Status and role are the initial tools for analyzing social structure. A status is simply a position in society or a group. Every society and group has many positions, and every individual occupies as many positions as there are groups to which ones belong.

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