Difference Between Ascribed and Achieved Status

Key Difference – Ascribed vs Achieved Status
 

When speaking of different forms of societies and social mobility, achieved status and ascribed status are two different concepts and there exist some differences between achieved and ascribed status. First, let us look at the concept of status. Status refers to the social and professional position of a person in relation to others. Here we can identify two categories. They are the ascribed status and achieved status. Ascribed status refers to the position that the individual is born with. Achieved status, on the other hand, refers to the position that the individual achieves through his dedication, commitment, skills, and qualities. Hence, the key difference between achieved and ascribed status is that while ascribed status is something that the individual inherits from birth, achieved status is something that the individual gains through hard work and talents. In this article, we will look at the differences between the two statuses while broadening our understanding of each concept.

What is Ascribed Status?

Ascribed status refers to the position that the individual inherits through birth. We all have certain ascribed statuses with us. For example, our sex, kinship, and class of origin are ascribed statuses. Hence, these cannot be changed for we are born with it. Although the importance that is assigned to ascribed status has now declined during the pre-industrialized societies, these were very significant as one’s status laid the framework for his or her entire life.

Here is an example. The caste system that operated in some societies categorized people into different castes. Based on the caste to which the individual was born to, his duties, roles, and responsibilities were pre-defined. Even if the individual wished to engage in another activity or pursue a career of his choice, this opportunity was denied.

Difference Between Ascribed and Achieved Status

What is Achieved Status?

Achieved status refers to the position that the individual achieves through his dedication, commitment, skills, and qualities. Our profession, class position are examples for achieved status. Unlike the ascribed status, achieved status can be changed by individual effort.

In the industrial societies such as the modern society, there are a lot of opportunities for people to change their social position through hard work. This is why we consider that social mobility is possible within this framework of achieved status. For example, a person who is born to a lower class in the society can work hard, develop his potential and come to a higher position in the society through achieved status. This is the key difference between ascribed and achieved status. Now let us summarize the differences as follows.

 Key Difference - Ascribed vs Achieved Status

What is the difference between Ascribed and Achieved Status?

Definitions of Ascribed and Achieved Status:

Ascribed Status: Ascribed status refers to the position that the individual inherits through birth.

Achieved Status: Achieved status refers to the position that the individual achieves through dedication, commitment, skills, and qualities.

Characteristics of Ascribed and Achieved Status:

Nature:

Ascribed Status: This is inherited through birth.

Achieved Status: This should be achieved through hard work.

Society:

Ascribed Status: Ascribed status gained prominence in pre-industrial societies.

Achieved Status: Achieved status gained prominence in industrial societies.

Examples of Ascribed and Achieved Status:

Ascribed Status: Sex, Caste, Race, Kinship are also ascribed statuses.

Achieved Status: Class position, profession are examples of achieved statuses.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “1794 Morgenstern Bauernhof anagoria” by Johann Ludwig Ernst Morgenstern – anagoria. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Advokat, Fransk advokatdräkt, Nordisk familjebok“. [Public Domain] via Commons