Man does not exist outside of society. We interact with other people, enter into different relationships with them. To indicate the position of a person among his own kind and characteristics of the individual's behavior in certain situations, the scientists introduced the concepts of “social status” and “social role”.

Social status and social role

About social status

The social status of an individual is not only a person’s place in the system of social relations, but also the rights and duties dictated by his position. Thus, the status of a doctor gives the right to diagnose and treat patients, but at the same time obliges the doctor to observe labor discipline and to carry out his work in good faith.

The concept of social status was first proposed by the American anthropologist R. Linton. The scientist made a great contribution to the study of the problems of the individual, her interaction with other members of society.

There are statuses in an enterprise, a family, a political party, a kindergarten, a school, a university, in a word, wherever an organized group of people is engaged in socially significant activities and the members of the group have certain relationships with each other.

Types of social status

There are several classifications of statuses:

  1. Personal and social. Personal status a person occupies in the family or other small group in accordance with the assessment of his personal qualities. Social status (examples: teacher, worker, Manager) is determined by the actions performed by the individual for the society.
  2. Primary and episodic. The main status is associated with the main functions in human life. Most often the basic status is a family man and worker. Episodic associated with the time during which a citizen performs a certain activity: pedestrian, reader in the library, trainees, theatre and audience.
  3. Prescribed achieved and mixed. Prescribed status does not depend on the desires and capabilities of the individual as given at birth (nationality, place of birth, caste). Achieved acquired through efforts (level of education, profession, achievements in science, art, sports). Mixed combines the features of prescribed and achieved statuses (physical disability).
  4. Socio-economic status is determined by the size of earnings and position the individual according to their well-being.

The combination of all available statuses is called a status set.

The company constantly assesses the significance of this or that status and on the basis of this builds a hierarchy of positions.

Estimates depend on the benefits of the business in which the person is involved, and on the value system adopted in the culture. The prestigious social status (examples: businessman, director) is highly appreciated. At the top of the hierarchy there is a general status that determines not only the life of a person, but also the position of people close to him (president, patriarch, academician).

If some statuses are unreasonably underestimated, while others, on the contrary, are excessively high, then they speak of an imbalance in status. The tendency to lose it threatens the normal functioning of society.

The hierarchy of statuses is also subjective. The person himself determines what is more important to him, in what status he feels better, what benefits he gains while in one or another position.

Social status change

Social status can not be something unchanged, since people's lives are not static. The movement of a person from one social group to another is called social mobility, which is divided into vertical and horizontal.

Vertical mobility is said when the social status of an individual rises or falls (the worker becomes an engineer, the head of a department becomes an ordinary employee, and so on). With horizontal mobility, a person maintains his position, but changes his profession (to an equivalent status), place of residence (becomes an emigrant).

Intergenerational and intragenerational mobility are also distinguished. The first determines how much the children have raised or lowered their status in relation to the status of their parents, and the second to judge how successful a social career is in the representatives of one generation (types of social status are taken into account).

Social institutions are the channels of social mobility: school, family, church, army, public organizations and political parties. Education is a social elevator that helps a person achieve the desired status.

A high social status acquired by an individual or a decrease in such status indicates individual mobility. If a status changes a certain community of people (for example, as a result of a revolution), then group mobility takes place.

Social roles

Being in one or another status, a person commits actions, communicates with other people, that is, plays a role. Social status and social role are closely interrelated, but different from each other. Status is a position, and a role is socially expected behavior determined by status. If the doctor is rude and swears, and the teacher is abusing alcohol, this does not correspond to his status.

The term “role” was borrowed from the theater to emphasize the stereotypical behavior of people from similar social groups. Man can not do what he wants. The behavior of an individual is determined by the rules and norms that are characteristic of a particular social group and society as a whole.

Unlike status, role is dynamic, closely connected with features of character and moral values of a person. Sometimes role behavior observed only on people, like putting on a mask. But sometimes that mask fused with a carrier, and the person ceases to distinguish himself and his role. Depending on the situation, this situation has both positive and negative consequences.

Social status and social role are two sides of the same coin.

A variety of social roles

Since there are many people in the world and each person is an individuality, there are hardly two identical roles. Some role models require emotional restraint, self-control (lawyer, surgeon, funeral home), and for other roles (actor, educator, mother, grandmother), emotions are very much in demand.

Some roles drive a person into a rigid framework (job descriptions, charters, etc.), others do not have a framework (parents are fully responsible for the behavior of the children).

The execution of roles is closely related to the motives that are also unequal. All determine the social status in society and personal motives. The official is concerned with promotion, the financier is concerned with profit, and the scientist with the search for truth.

Role set

Role set is understood as a set of roles characteristic of a given status. Thus, the doctor of science is in the role of a researcher, teacher, mentor, supervisor, consultant, etc. Each role involves its own ways of communicating with others. The same teacher behaves differently with colleagues, students, the rector of the university.

The concept of "role set" describes the diversity of social roles inherent in a particular status. No role is rigidly assigned to its carrier. For example, one of the spouses remains without work and for some time (and maybe forever) loses the role of a colleague, subordinate, manager, becomes a housewife (householder).

In many families, social roles are symmetrical: both husband and wife are equally breadwinners, homeowners, and educators of children. In such a situation, it is important to adhere to the golden mean: excessive passion for one role (director of the company, business woman) leads to a lack of time and energy for others (father, mother).

Role expectations

The difference between social roles and mental states and personality traits is that roles are a kind of historically developed standard of behavior. To the carrier of a particular role requirements. So, the child must certainly be obedient, the schoolchild or student must study well, the worker must comply with labor discipline, etc. Social status and social role oblige to act this way and not otherwise. The requirements system is otherwise called expectations.

Role expectations act as an intermediary between status and role. Role is considered only such behavior, which corresponds to the status. If the teacher, instead of giving a lecture on higher mathematics, begins to sing with a guitar, then students will be surprised, because they expect other behavioral responses from the assistant professor or professor.

Role expectations consist of actions and qualities. Taking care of the child, playing with him, putting the baby to sleep, the mother performs actions, and kindness, responsiveness, empathy, moderate severity contribute to the successful implementation of actions.

Compliance with the role played is important not only to others, but also to the person himself. The subordinate seeks to earn the respect of the boss, receives moral satisfaction from the high evaluation of the results of his work. The athlete is training hard to set a record. The writer is working on creating a bestseller. The social status of a person requires to be on top. If the expectations of the individual do not meet the expectations of others, then internal and external conflicts arise.

Role conflict

Contradictions between the carriers of the roles arise either because of a mismatch with expectations, or because one role completely excludes the other. The young man more or less successfully performs the roles of son and friend. But friends call the guy to the disco, and parents demand that he stay at home. The ambulance doctor has a sick child, and the doctors are urgently called to the hospital, as a natural disaster has happened. The husband wants to go to the dacha to help his parents, and the wife reserves a trip to the sea to improve the health of the children.

Resolving role conflicts is not easy. The participants of the confrontation have to decide on which role is more important, but in most cases compromises are more appropriate. The teenager returns from the party early, the doctor leaves his child with his mother, grandmother or nanny, and the spouses stipulate the terms of participation in country work and travel time with the whole family.

Sometimes the resolution of the conflict becomes a way out of the role: changing jobs, entering a university, divorce. Most often, a person understands that he has outgrown this or that role, or she has become a burden to him. The change of roles is inevitable as the child grows and develops: a baby, a young child, a preschooler, a primary school student, a teenager, a young man, an adult. The transition to a new age level is provided by internal and external contradictions.


From birth, a person learns the norms, patterns of behavior and cultural values ​​characteristic of a particular society. This is how socialization occurs, the social status of the individual is acquired. Without socialization, a person cannot become a full-fledged person. Socialization is influenced by the media, cultural traditions of the people, social institutions (family, school, labor collectives, public associations, etc.).

Purposeful socialization occurs as a result of training and education, but the efforts of parents and teachers are adjusted by the street, the economic and political situation in the country, television, the Internet and other factors.

From the effectiveness of socialization depends on the further development of society. Children grow up and occupy the status of parents, take on certain roles. If the family and the state did not pay enough attention to the upbringing of the younger generation, then degradation and stagnation occur in public life.

The members of the society agree on their behavior with certain standards. It may be prescribed rules (laws, regulations, rules) or tacit expectations. Any noncompliance with these standards is considered a deviation, or deviation. Examples of deviation, drug addiction, prostitution, alcoholism, pedophilia, etc., the Deviation is individual, when from the norm is rejected by one person, and group (informal group).

Socialization occurs as a result of two interrelated processes: internalization and social adaptation. A person adapts to social conditions, mastering the rules of the game, mandatory for all members of society. Over time, norms, values, attitudes, ideas about what is good and what is bad become a part of the inner world of a person.

People are socialized throughout life, and at each age stage, statuses are acquired and lost, new roles are mastered, conflicts arise and are resolved. This is the development of personality.