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Status and Role

The term has two sociological uses:

1. R. Linton (1936) defined status simply as a position in a social system, such as child or parent. Status refers to what a person is, whereas the closely linked notion of role refers to the behaviour expected of people in a status.

2. Status is also used as a synonym for honor or prestige, when social status denotes the relative position of a person on a publicly recognized scale or hierarchy of social worth. (See 'Social Stratification').

It is the first meaning of the term status, status as position, which we are going to refer to in the following paragraphs. Status as honour or prestige is a part of the study of social stratification.

A status is simply a rank or position that one holds in a group. One occupies the status of son or daughter, playmate, pupil, radical, militant and so on. Eventually one occupies the statuses of husband, mother bread-winner, cricket fan, and so on, one has as many statuses as there are groups of which one is a member. For analytical purposes, statuses are divided into two basic types: