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Relative rank that an individual holds, with attendant rights, duties, and lifestyle, in a social hierarchy based on honour and prestige. Status is often ascribed on the basis of sex, age, family relationships, and birth, placing one into a particular social group irrespective of ability or accomplishments. Achieved status, on the other hand, is based on educational attainment, occupational choice, marital status, and other factors involving personal effort. Status groups differ from social classes in being based on considerations of honour and prestige rather than purely economic position. Relative status is a major determinant of people's behaviour toward one another, and competition for status seems to be a prime human motivator.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on social status, visit Britannica.com.
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