Man does not exist outside of society. We interact with other people, enter into various relationships with them. To denote the position of a person among themselves and the characteristics of the behavior of the individual in those or other situations, 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 rights and duties dictated by the position he occupies. So, the status of the doctor gives the right to diagnose and treat patients, but at the same time obliges doctors to observe work discipline and conscientiously carry out their work.

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

The statuses are at the enterprise, in the family, in the political party, in the kindergarten, in the school, in the university, in a word, wherever the organized group of people engages in socially significant activities and the members of the group are in certain relations 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 totality of all available statuses is called a status set.

The society constantly assesses the significance of a given status and on the basis of this builds a hierarchy of positions.

Assessments depend on the usefulness of the case, which the person is engaged in, and on the value system adopted in the culture. Prestigious social status (examples: businessman, director) is highly appreciated. At the top of the hierarchy 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 a violation of status equilibrium. The tendency to lose it jeopardizes the normal functioning of society.

The hierarchy of statuses is subjective. The person himself determines what is more important for him, in what status he feels better, what benefits he derives from being in one or another position.

Change in social status

Social status can not be something unchangeable, because people's lives are not static. Moving 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 a person is increased or decreased (the worker becomes an engineer, the head of the department is an ordinary employee, etc.). With horizontal mobility, a person retains his position, but changes his profession (to an equivalent in status), his place of residence (he becomes an emigrant).

Also distinguish between intergenerational and intrasocial mobility. The first determines how much children have raised or lowered their status relative to the status of their parents, while the second judges how successful a social career is in a single generation (social status is 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.

Acquired by a person high social status or a decrease in that testify to individual mobility. If the status is changed by a certain community of people (for example, as a result of the revolution), then there is group mobility.

Social roles

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

The term "role" was borrowed from the theater to emphasize the stereotyped behavior of people of similar social groups. A person can not do what he wants. The behavior of an individual determines the rules and norms that are specific to 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.

Variety of social roles

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

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

The performance of roles is closely related to motives, which are also not the same. All determine the social status in society and personal motives. The official is worried about promotion, the financier - profit, and the scientist - the search for truth.

Role Playing

By role-based set is understood the set of roles, characteristic for this or that status. So, the doctor of sciences is in the role of researcher, teacher, mentor, scientific advisor, consultant, etc. Each role implies its own ways of communicating with others. The same teacher behaves differently with colleagues, students, rector of the university.

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

In many families, social roles are symmetrical: both husband and wife equally act as breadwinners, masters of the home and educators of children. In this situation, it is important to stick to the golden mean: excessive involvement in one role (director of the company, businesswomen) leads to a lack of energy and time for others (father, mother).

Role expectations

The difference of social roles from mental states and personality properties is that the roles represent a certain historically developed standard of behavior. Requirements are assigned to the bearer of this or that role. So, the child must necessarily be obedient, the schoolboy or the student - to study well, the worker - to observe the labor discipline, etc. Social status and social role oblige to act this way, and not otherwise. The requirements system is called expectations in another way.

Role expectations are an intermediate link between status and role. Only such behavior, which corresponds to the status, is considered role-playing. If the teacher instead of giving a lecture in higher mathematics starts singing with a guitar, then the students will be surprised, because they expect other behavioral reactions from the associate professor or professor.

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

The correspondence of the performed role is important not only to the environment, but also to the person himself. The subordinate seeks to earn the respect of the superior, receives moral satisfaction from the high evaluation of the results of his work. The athlete strenuously trains to establish a record. The writer is working on creating a bestseller. The social status of the person obliges to be on top. If the expectations of the individual do not correspond to the expectations of others, then internal and external conflicts arise.

Role conflict

Contradictions between role bearers arise either because of inconsistency with expectations, or because one role completely excludes the other. A young man more or less successfully performs the role of a son and a friend. But friends call the guy to the disco, and his parents demand that he stay at home. The ambulance doctor got sick and the doctor is urgently called to the hospital, since a natural disaster happened. The husband wants to go to the country house to help his parents, and his wife book a ticket to the sea to make the children healthier.

Resolution of role-playing conflicts is not an easy task. Participants in the confrontation have to be determined with what 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 specify the terms of participation in country work and the time of traveling with the whole family.

Sometimes conflict resolution becomes a way out of the role: change of work, admission to university, divorce. Most often a person understands that he has outgrown this or that role or she has become a burden to him. Change of roles is inevitable as the child grows and develops: baby, young child, preschool child, primary school student, teenager, youth, 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 takes place, the social status of the individual is acquired. Without socialization, a person can not become a full-fledged person. Socialization is influenced by the mass media, cultural traditions of the people, social institutions (family, school, work collectives, public associations, etc.).

Targeted socialization occurs as a result of education and upbringing, 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.

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

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, masteres the rules of the game, which are mandatory for all members of society. Over time, norms, values, attitudes, ideas about what is good and what is bad become part of the inner world of the individual.

People socialize throughout their lives, and at each age stage, statuses are acquired and lost, new roles are mastered, conflicts arise and resolve. This is how the personality develops.