Difference between social role and social status.

In the humanities, much attention is paid to the study of social roles and social statuses. What are the features of both?

What is social status?

Modern society is characterized by constant interaction of people. At the same time, a person can be in different social groups - in his family, at work, at school. In each of them, he has a certain position, which implies the performance of various tasks and functions, as well as the use of established rights. This provision corresponds to the social status of a person.

For example, if we are talking about such a social group as a labor collective, then the social status of a person in it will be characterized by the position he occupies, the specifics of the rights and obligations under the contract, the level of authority, privileges, salary. It can be higher or lower than the status of some colleagues at work, or equal to the corresponding social characteristics of other employees of the firm.

People can have a social status and apply to the whole society. In this case, it will be expressed in the aggregate of the personal and professional qualities of a citizen, the level of his education, income, fame among other people.

It may also be the case that a person who has a high social status in one group will have a low social status in other communities. For example, when a citizen has excellent academic performance at the university, but in his sports team, in which he plays after classes, he plays a secondary role.

A similar feature characterizes the ratio of social statuses in different civil societies. So, having achieved success and the corresponding regalia in his country, a person who has decided, relatively speaking, to emigrate, may find himself at the bottom of the social ladder in another state.

Social statuses are classified into prescribed and acquired.

The former are an attribute of a person's personality outside of his desire - for example, if an ordinary employee of a firm is appointed to a high position under the patronage of a relative, although objectively he does not deserve his promotion. In this case, the colleagues of this employee may not share the views of management regarding the appropriate appointment of the person.

The acquired statuses, on the contrary, reflect the significant contribution of a person to his personal and professional growth. Usually, they are rated higher by members of the community with which a person interacts.

What is a social role?

Under the social role is understood as a set of behavioral characteristics of a person, conditioned by his social status (but not only) and characteristic of the community with whose representatives he interacts. Those people with whom he communicates, consider this social role as adequate to the position of a person in the corresponding group. Moreover, this role is formed, as a rule, under the influence of the opinions of the people around.

How can a person's fulfillment of his social role be expressed?

For example, if he is a member of a sports team, then he can be its captain (this will be his social status) - as one of the best and most experienced players. This role presupposes a regular manifestation by a person of his personal and professional qualities - and this will already be his social role. In this case, the appointment of a player as a captain can be carried out by the decision of all other members of the sports team - and they will also evaluate how he corresponds to the role received. If a person does not cope, another athlete can be put in his place.

Above, we noted that not only social status predetermines the appearance of the corresponding role. The factor of its formation can be the exceptional personal and professional qualities of a person in those aspects that do not imply the emergence of his social status, but affect the increase of his authority in the eyes of representatives of the community.

For example, if a very young but highly trained and qualified player joins a sports team, he will most likely not be appointed captain immediately. But they will play a significant social role - a stable player of the main team, capable of regularly showing their personal and professional qualities.


The main difference between the social role and social status is that the first characteristic of a person's personality is its unconditional, indisputable, but unstable attribute - requiring the carrier to constantly maintain the legitimacy of its possession. In turn, social status, as we noted above, is sometimes received by a person and not quite deservedly - however, it should not be questioned.

A person can begin to play a social role by virtue of the status received - and vice versa. But it is not always the case. Therefore, the social role and status can be considered as closely related features, but not always interdependent.

A person almost always acquires a social role, taking into account the opinions of the community members, in which he conducts regular activities, performs any actions, solves problems, has duties and rights. A person can receive a social status even without taking into account the opinion of his community - for example, if someone from outside parties influencing the relevant group decides to endow him with special privileges.

Having determined what is the difference between social role and social status, let us fix the conclusions in the table.


Social role Social status
What do they have in common?
A person can begin to play a social role due to the acquisition of social status - and vice versa
What is the difference between them?
Is an indisputably deserved attribute of a person's personality - but requires confirmation from the carrier of the legality of possessionMay be an accidentally acquired attribute that does not require confirmation of the legality of possession im
It happens that a person plays a social role without having the appropriate statusA person with a social status may not necessarily play a significant social role
As a rule, purchased with the approval of members of the community with which the person interactsCan be acquired without taking into account the opinions of the community members with which the person interacts