What is Social Status, Role and Prestige?

What is Social Status, Role and Prestige?

July 2, 2021 Off By Felso

It is often our status rather than our inner traits that determine what other people think of us and their attitudes and behaviors towards us. Status is the name other people give to an individual’s place in society.


If we compare daily life to a theater play, it can be accepted that each actor is given a place in the script and the behaviors that this actor should display on stage are also determined. For example; father, cook, teenager, mayor, institution manager etc. There are roles and stage behaviors suitable for these roles. These positions or adjectives, which are part of the existence of individuals, are generally called social status in sociology.

An individual can have multiple statuses such as child, brother, sibling, head of department, doctor. People have both acquired (given) status and earned status. The sources on which the status of individuals are based are wealth, ancestry, gender, individual ability, education level, difficulty of the task, job and importance, age, marital status, income level, religious belief, etc. may be. Some statuses such as being a woman or a man, belonging to a nation, being a member of a noble family are innate.

That is, statuses such as being male or female, born into a rich or poor family, or born into a certain race are acquired, that is, innate statuses. The statuses that people later obtain through their own efforts and sometimes by luck are earned statuses (Coser, 1983:83-85).

These statuses are obtained later, as a result of the individual’s efforts: such as having a profession, being rich, being a mother. Being a teacher, being a father, or winning the lottery and getting rich are examples of earned status. While innate status is more important in determining the place of people in the society in traditional societies, acquired status is more important in today’s modern societies.


Every social status, whether innate or acquired, brings with it certain behaviors that the individual learns in the socialization process. Roles are socially defined expectations regarding behavior that bind each individual to other individuals in his or her life. In other words, society expects people of every status to behave in a certain way, and this behavior is called a role. Behaviors expected from statuses in sociology are generally called social roles. For example; The primary expected role of a doctor is to examine his patients.

Roles consist of rights and duties appropriate to the status in society. All people have some status (mother, teacher, class mother, neighbor) and they all carry their own role. Social life is possible when everyone conforms to their social roles, that is, by fulfilling the expected and predictable behaviors. People can have multiple roles depending on their status, for example an individual can have the roles of man, father, son, husband, doctor, and apartment manager. Role conflict can occur when one or some of the individual’s roles do not match with other roles. For example, a father who is a policeman will experience a role conflict when he sees his own child among the criminals in a raid. If he behaves like a good father, he will not behave like a good cop, if he behaves like a good cop, he will not behave like a good father (Coser, 1983: 8687).

One of the important topics of interest in sociology within the framework of the individual-society relationship is the positions that individuals occupy in the social structure and the roles they play depending on these positions.

Since society is built on extremely complex social relations, the individual simultaneously occupies more than one status and thus plays more than one role. This situation sometimes causes role conflicts and sometimes role reinforcements, such as when a woman is both the mother and teacher of her child, or a literature teacher is a writer. Although the individual has more than one status, it is defined by a prominent status in social life. In sociology, this status is called a key status and the behavior required by this status is called a key role.

There is a strong connection between the roles that an individual has and the way they behave. Each individual behaves as his role requires. Role conflict is the incompatibility between the roles that the individual fulfills. Role consolidation is when the roles that the individual fulfills support each other.


Our daily life; It is full of experiences that show that society is more interested in some people or professions around us. For example, because a well-dressed person gives the impression that he may have a high status, the way of addressing him is different from the way of addressing other people. Society does not assign the same value to every status. For this reason, children usually want to be doctors, engineers, artists, athletes or they are guided by the society towards such a desire. Here, the value given by the society to the status of the individual is called prestige in sociology.