Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences Between Ascribed and Achieved Status

Ascribed vs Achieved Status

Sometimes, we think that only certain studies, courses, and even degrees that we take only allow us to define terminologies. There are just certain things in life that we need to learn about and be informed about so when the time comes and it could be applied, we know what to do, and how to use it. Take for instance the terms: ascribed and achieved. Little did we know that there is actually a difference between both terms. In fact, in this article, we will be discussing the differences between an ascribed status and an achieved status.

Let’s define each first.

Ascribed status

An ascribed status is a type of status that is assigned. It may also be given. It is a type of status that is given or handed as a result of inheritance. Let’s list some examples. If you are an Asian woman, or a Hindi woman, in their society they have a ranking; hence, say, for example, when voting, men are allowed to vote first. This is their ascribed status. Although, in this current day and age, there may have been changes, but that is not a part of our discussion. More often, society dictates the ascribed status to a given individual.

An ascribed status is mostly based on the individual’s age, sex, gender, race, tradition, and even caste system from where the individual lives and grew up.

An ascribed status is rigid, unbending, and is, quite naturally, not easy to change. It occupies respect in very traditional society.

Achieved status

An achieved status, on the other hand, is something that that comes to you because you earned it. It is something that you earn because of what you have done, because of what you have accomplished. It is something that you earned through an activity that you have done. There are preconditions to obtaining an achieved status. Once you have fulfilled such conditions, you would have earned this status. This is why the achieved status is as synonymous to personal accomplishments as one would have acquired such status from a competition, for example.

An achieved status is mostly based on the individual’s qualities, his capabilities, and the individual’s potential, as well as his abilities.

When you talk of an achieved status, it is not quite so stable as it is self-changing. In modern societies that would be more open to change, the achieved status has more importance because its basis is more on the personal qualities and what a person can achieve, as opposed to an ascribed status.

In summary:

An ascribed status is more what society dictates; hence, it tells of a person’s status because of traditions, customs, and what a certain society would have been pre-determined even before birth.
An achieved status is more of a personal achievement, an individual’s potentials that would allow him to achieve a certain status because of what he is capable of doing and achieving.
An ascribed status is rigid because of its basis, while an achieved status is permissive and accepting due to the capabilities of the individual.

When you take a closer look at the differences between an ascribed status and an achieved status, you would immediately come to the conclusion that society, no matter how far and remote you deem it to be, as it doesn’t play a close proximity to your day-to day-existence, does actually participate in an individual’s life, without us seemingly being aware of it. Who would’ve thought that it is such an integral part of one’s life? What’s more, when you grow up or become a part of a society that somehow dictates to one’s social standing, it is quite a challenge to be able to rise up and achieve a status that you are yearning for. Then again, once you do, the sweet success of achieving it is worth all the time and effort.


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