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Social Stratification of Status Groups

While class is broadly perceived as grouping on the basis of economic criteria, status is based on prestige, goodwill, fame, personal qualities and social capital of an individual. Status is often seen in terms of the social position. Earlier status was seen in terms of ascriptive values, e.g. caste, nobleman, clergy and estate owner. Status is both achieved as well as ascriptive. Apart from economic criterion another point of difference between status and class is that while the members of a status group are generally conscious of their affiliation to that group, class membership is more difficult to trace. As a society becomes modern, status is also redefined. New occupations and new opportunities for mobility lead to opening of strata. Mobility in status-based groups is more in modern capitalist societies and less in less developed modern societies.

Status is one of the dimensions of stratification according to Marx Weber and he differentiates it from class as social estimation of honor. Status is associated with consumption and not production. According to Weber, caste is the most developed form of status-based stratification L Warner in his The Social Life of a Modern community ,1941 emphasizes on social status, instead of economic class. He considers three variables which are education, occupation and income as determinants of status. Other criteria which determine status are friendship, membership of voluntary groups and leisure activities. Pierre Bourdieu in his An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology 1992 also proposed that lifestyle choices rather than class are more important today. Individual identities are now more shaped by lifestyle choices rather than by more traditional indicators like occupation. He made a departure from class to status and enumerated four dimensions of status as cultural capital, economic capital, social capital and symbolic capital. Social closure is a phenomenon in which some people or groups are excluded from the membership or participation in a particular status group. Caste system, apartheid etc. are the typical examples of such a phenomenon.

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