Ralph Linton used the term “achieved status” to describe a social position that a person may earn or choose based on their merit. Ralph Linton defined “achieved status” and “ascribed status” in his 1936 book The Study of Man.
Achieved status is any social position acquired by personal effort, hard work, and competition. It refers to a person’s social position due to their achievements in formal or market competition. Typically, the post of a university professor or physician is obtained by a competitive test, followed by admission into the employment market.
It is common practice to contrast earned status with ascribed status. The latter refers to those social positions assigned to a person by birth or family history and cannot be changed based on individual achievements. Such status includes a status assigned based on race, ethnicity, and gender. Specific achieved statuses provide distinction in society, and this prominence may result in certain benefits, such as preferential treatment in certain social circumstances.
A status attained by merit is a position that is earned or selected and represents the individual’s talents, abilities, and efforts. People with achieved status must make decisions about not just their careers but also their friends, groups, schools, and living location. In addition, it leads individuals into positions that their parents did not anticipate or want.
Sociologically, status is significant because it carries a set of rights, responsibilities, behaviors, and activities that individuals in a certain position are expected or encouraged to execute. Throughout one’s lifetime, one’s standing might fluctuate. Statuses may be attained by any combination of effort, education, luck, or social standing, fluctuating over a person’s lifetime.
The son of a farm laborer becoming a professional graduate doctor is an example of achieved status.