Category Archives: Achieved Status

Social Mobility

America is very well known as a social system in which the position of each individual is influenced by his or her achieved status (defined in Jon Witt’s Soc 2013 textbook) (“open system”). The United States is constructed of five social standings, which are all based on individuals economic ranking (upper, upper-middle, middle, working and under class). An interconnected concept is social mobility. So what are social mobility and stratification in reality? Social mobility is described by example below:

Starting with the most desirable; upward vertical mobility. Oprah Winfrey a famous entrepreneur accomplishes the dream of movement from poverty to upper class. As quoted in Good Reads, Oprah opines, “I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you”. It is obvious that holding the ascribed status of an African American woman in the sixties, created a great burden in social class movement for Oprah. The movement in economic class that Winfrey achieved is inspiring. Her mother had her as a teenager and had to look for work elsewhere. Until age six Oprah lived with her Grandmother. Suddenly her world took a twist and she was living in Milwaukee with her mother who worked long days as a housemaid. While her mother was away, she repeatedly was raped and abused by the men allowed in their apartment. Thankfully, at age fifteen, she was rescued by her disciplined father whom she is still thankful for. After all, the rules her father insisted on have paid off. Oprah became a successful teenager on the honor roll and even was nominated as Miss Black Tennessee Beauty. She went to college and studied performing arts and speech. Suddenly she began to receive many opportunities. After all of this, America adored Oprah which allowed her to create her own successful television show (“The Oprah Winfrey Show”). Quoted from the Academy of Achievement, “The business press measures her wealth in numerous superlatives: the highest-paid performer on television, the richest self-made woman in America, and the richest African-American of the 20th century”.

Yes, all of these are great achievements but there is no way to measure all of the humanitarian acts she has done over the years. If we look at Oprah’s life now, we could agree that she is successful according to the fact that she owns her own production of Television program and organizations of charity.  Oprah is upper class in all three ideas (class, status group and party). She is the wealthiest black woman in America, our population sees her as an inspiring, successful icon and she has many followers that agree with the goal she has for our world.

Moving from class to class is difficult in many ways. The people of the upper class tend to all participate in the same expensive activities and minimal opportunities. Looking back on Oprah Winfrey, one of the big steps in her mobility in social class was when she moved in with her father and finally had the opportunities with school, awards and the pageant she won. This created a different world of people and places besides the poverty she lived in before ending in a social class movement.

— Emily

Works Cited

Witt, Jon. Soc 2013. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print.

“Oprah Winfrey Quotes.” Good Reads. Good Reads Inc. 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.

“Oprah Winfrey Biography” Academy of Achievement. American Academy of Achievement, 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.



Caste System

Here in America when you are born you have the choice to become whoever or whatever you want. In places like India where the caste system is in place when you are born you are to automatically assume the same social rank, or position as your parents. Caste means hereditary rank, usually religiously dictated, that tends to be fixed and immobile. The caste system is mostly associated with Hinduism in India and in some other countries as well. In India there are priests, warriors, merchants, and artisans/farmers. They are also known as Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. These are the four major castes. There is also a fifth caste known as the untouchables or the Dalit caste. The Dalit caste is known to be so low in rank and unclean that they are said to have no place in this system of stratification.

People who live within a caste system have no choice about their social rank, they cannot change which caste they are in. You are expected to marry within your caste as well. This reminds me of a time when I was in middle school and some classmates were telling me that since my parents didn’t go to college and don’t have good jobs that I would turn out the same way. Just because I was born into a family that doesn’t have a history of going to college doesn’t mean that I can’t. I can experience social mobility and can change the social rank that I am in.

Social mobility is not seen in places like India, people do not have the right to move from one position in a society’s stratification system to another. The caste system is a closed system; the people involved have little to no way of social mobility. People live very unequally in the caste system and they should be able to do whatever they want, go wherever they want, and be able to be or marry whoever they want. There should be no invisible walls keeping these castes separate. There should be an open system everywhere in the world. An open system is where the position of an individual is because of their own achieved status, not because of their parent’s status. Even a class system would be better than a caste system because you have the freedom and opportunity to move from one class to another, it’s all up to you.

— Emily




All societies in the world are socially stratified meaning wealth, power, and honor are unequally distributed among different groups. In other words all communities are separated into different social classes. The most frequently used basis for categorizing different forms of stratification systems is the way status is acquired.

In sociology social roles are expectations for the ways in which people are expected to behave in specific situations. These expectations are created and defined by the societies in which the people live. Different societies have dissimilar social roles. Role expectations include both actions and qualities.  For example, a teacher may be expected not only to deliver lectures, assign homework, and prepare examinations but also to be dedicated, concerned, and responsible.

We cannot talk about social role without explaining social status. According to sociologists, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one’s position in society.  It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group. For example, we are all students in this class and each one of us is either a son or daughter of somebody. The position or rank of a person or group within the society can be determined in two ways. A person can earn their social status by their own achievements also known as achieved or attained status. Alternatively, a person can be placed in the position. This inherited position is known as ascribed status meaning they are predefined for an individual at birth. For example prince William of England will have many high expectations compare to any poor child born in England.

In modern societies like ours, occupation or job is usually thought of as the main determinant of status. Other factors such as ethnic group, religion, gender, voluntary associations and hobby can have an influence also. This achieved status is when people are placed on the stratification structure based on their individual merits; the most commonly used here in America is education. The amount and kind of education people attain determine the kinds of jobs they get. The kind of work people do is the main determinant of their income.  Therefore, one’s place within the stratification structure is determined by financial, academic or political success. The higher a person is in rank, the better off he is. Moreover, the education, occupation, and income of parents largely determine the kinds of advantages or disadvantages they create for their own children. These situations are the roots of social inequality we observe in every society. Based on that observation, the gap can only grow deeper and deeper with time. For example Blacks are substantially less well educated than Whites just because the parents of blacks are poorly educated themselves. The sharp difference between blacks and whites is the continuing legacy of slavery. For centuries whites could educate themselves, passing that huge advantage to their children while it was forbidden for blacks to get any kind of education.

In the United States of America, there is no difference in the opportunity given to both girls and boys to have access to education. After graduation comes the reality of the work world. In fact, according to Donald J. Treiman, a sociologist, at equal levels of education, women earn about 60 percent of what men earn. This is explained by the gender preference for men over women that prevails in the work place. Women’s potential seems to be undermined by their so called women to-do task. In fact, the work lives for many women are interrupted for childbearing. Consequently many corporations want to avoid the stress of training and hiring somebody else for her job to replace women whenever they have to be put on leave. Moreover when it comes to gender in American society, women and men are assigned predetermined cultural roles. Women assume the roles of mothers, housekeepers, and servants to their husbands and kids, while men are providers, protectors, and heads of the household. More and more, we see a change in society today regarding the gender roles. Indeed, in modern homes, husbands and wives work both outside of the house. Both are providers for their family and both do the housekeeping job for the well being of the all family.

Works cited

Treiman, Donald J. “Status Attainment.” Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2nd ed. Vol. 5. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001. 3042-3049. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 13 Feb. 2013