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Ascribed and Achieved Status

In each society and/or cultural group, people are viewed as having an ascribed status or an achieved status. These terms are ways of describing an individual’s placement in the social hierarchy or culture. In the purest form, ascribed status is a status that an individual is born with and can’t control, such as race. Achieved status is an earned status that usually reflects an individual’s effort. It is a status that is acquired, such as becoming a doctor or an elected official.

This entry provides examples of how achieved and ascribed statuses might influence each other and vary by circumstance, including the complexities related to navigating these social positions.

Achieved and Ascribed Status: Variations by Circumstance

The definitions of achieved and ascribed status can be confusing or can ...

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