What Does the Sociology Term Ascribed Status Mean?

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The sociology term ascribed status means the position a person holds in society, assigned on the basis of factors such as gender, race and age. It is the opposite of achieved status, where a person’s position is based on accomplishments.

Unlike achieved status, ascribed status is something a person is born with or assigned involuntarily. The effect of such a status depends on the country, culture and status itself. For example, in Japan, elderly people are revered and this ascribed status is a positive.

In the United States people usually emphasize personal achievement over other statuses. Ascribed status has high value in agrarian societies where people are dependent on agriculture instead of industrialization.

Ascribed status plays a direct role in social interactions in most cultures.