ascribed status

(noun) A status assigned at birth or assumed involuntarily later in life, often based on biological factors, that cannot be changed through individual effort or achievement.

Example: ethnicity, gender, and sex.

Audio Pronunciation: (as·cribed stat·us)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: ascribed statuses
  • Coined by Ralph Linton (1893–1953) in The Study of Man: An Introduction (1936).
  • Ascribed statuses are often master statuses.
  • Achieved status is the opposite of ascribed status.
  • Ascribed statuses such as ethnicity and gender directly impact the likelihood of acquiring achieved statuses due to inequality and oppression.
  • Also called:
    • ascribed role
    • ascribed status
    • ascribed trait
    • ascription
  • Ascribed status used in a sentence: Marsha was born with two ascribed statuses; she is African-American and a woman.

Related Quotations:

  • “About 5000 years ago, people developed plow agriculture. By attaching oxen and other large animals to plows, farmers could increase the amount they produced. Again thanks to technological innovation, surpluses grew. With more wealth came still sharper social stratification. Agrarian societies developed religious beliefs justifying steeper inequality. People came to believe that kings and queens ruled by ‘divine right.’ They viewed large landowners as ‘lords.’ Moreover, if you were born a peasant, you and your children were likely to remain peasants. If you were born a lord, you and your children were likely to remain lords. In the vocabulary of modern sociology, we say that stratification in agrarian societies was based more on ascription than achievement” (Brym and Lie 2007:225).
  • “Caste and class systems of stratification are opposite, extreme points on a continuum. The two systems differ in the ease of social mobility, the relative importance of achieved and ascribed statuses, and the extent to which each restricts interaction among people considered unequal” (Ferrante 2011b:204).

Additional Information:

Related Terms:

 


References

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

 

Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

 

How to Cite the Definition of Ascribed Status

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “ascribed status.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 14, 2018 (https://sociologydictionary.org/ascribed-status/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

ascribed status. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/ascribed-status/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “ascribed status.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/ascribed-status/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“ascribed status.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/ascribed-status/>.