Essay on Ascribed and Achieved Statuses

In my essay, I try to explain what ascribed and achieved statuses are, and I try to explain how some of them have notable similarities. I also explain how such statuses usually affect the social and industrial roles a person takes or has.

Anthropologist Ralph Linton said that achieved status is a social position. It is something that people can achieved based on merit or “perceived” merit. There is an element of the social position begin chosen or earned in some way. It may reflect a personal skills or effort. Some people consider achieved status to also coincide with social roles. For example, a person may choose to be a mother and takes the role of a mother to rear children. A person may choose to be a taxi driver and takes the role of driving people around. Other examples of an achieved status include being a gardener, soccer player, and veterinary surgeon. People may also have more than one achieved status and more than one role.

Ascribed status is a social status that is often assumed involuntarily or is assigned at birth. Sometimes, a status may be assigned at birth that issues an assumption involuntarily later in life. For example, a person may be the 3rd in line for the British throne where that person would live out his/her entire life without being king/queen, and yet a tragic accident kills the two people in line before him/her and so the 3rd in line is forced to assume the throne.

There are some ascribed statuses that appear to be unavoidable. For example, a person born without arms will never play netball. However, most other ascribed statuses are more to do with gender, ethnicity, race, and family origins or background. They are ascribed, but they are culturally ascribed. For example, in Russia, a woman is ascribed the role of lower life form that was built to make babies, but in Canada a woman is as equally productive as a man both socially and industrially.

Ascribed statuses come with their own benefits and restrictions, but similar things are true with achieved statuses. For example, a stripper may no longer be welcome at civilized dinner tables, yet the difference is that the woman/man chose to be a stripper. If a person were not allowed at the table because of a deformity, then that exclusion was not caused (or the fault of) the deformed person. One may say it was the fault of the stripper because he/she chose to be a stripper.

There are roles that go with an ascribed status, and sometimes a person may choose to follow those roles and sometimes they do not. In many cases, the roles that are taken up are done so involuntarily.

There are other times when roles are not involuntary, but the person involved feels a great amount of social pressure to fulfill those roles. These may go as far and as deep as sexuality. For example, with only 10% of human society being homosexual, a person that is born homosexual (not somebody that chooses to be homosexual) may decide to act and “be” straight because of social pressure and the lack of viable partners in the homosexual world. Sexuality is considered an ascribed and an achieved status. A straight person may choose to be homosexual, and a person may also be born homosexual, in which case it is ascribed. The ascribed status homosexual (born that way) would be attracted to and aroused by people of the same sex from ages as young as puberty. People that choose to be homosexual may “come out” at any age, and they achieve their homosexual status via their actions and newfound attraction to same-sex relations.

Conclusion

As you can see by my essay, ascribed and achieved statuses have numerous differences and similarities. They each affect a person’s and a group’s roles both socially and industrially, and they may even affect the characteristics of a person and the public’s perception of them.