What is Master Status in Sociology?

Master status in sociology is a concept that describes the privilege or the rights of one group to dominate over another. Sociologists mainly use this term to describe the relationship between groups of unequal status. Master statuses include the functions, positions, and values the community members accept.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

Ideally, master status is socially ordained, which gives certain individuals special authority to make decisions in a social situation. Therefore, they can be referred to as a cultural acceptance of a hierarchy. In this regard, the absence of a master status leads to social disorder, resulting in multiple hierarchical structures competing, forming an unstable society.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

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Master Status

Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example

Master status can be in different contexts as follows;


Many people in society look up to their occupation as one of the driving purposes of their lives. In this case, a person with a high-ranking occupation is more likely to have the privilege of making societal decisions.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

Often, occupation is highly associated with wealth and social status. Therefore, people who identify themselves depending on their occupation gain social recognition and respect from others.


Gender is one of the historically master statuses used in a structured society. This master status has provided a strategy in society to divide labor. Men are considered to have the highest status women are subordinate in society.

Gender status is an important master status as it helps to differentiate the privileges and powers of different members of society. Ideally, gender can be defined as the cultural and social characteristics of being female or male.

However, these characteristics are acquired and learned through acculturation. In this case, differences in these characteristics between these genders create inequalities. (Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

For example, women are regarded as a gender whose main focus is to raise children and attend to domestic affairs. Additionally, women in the past were not allowed to vote, which made gender status separated who would and would not participate in democracy.

On the contrary, throughout history, men have been required to make decisions, especially in the public sphere. However, this master has been changing with more women acquiring higher social status, allowing them to also engage in decision-making. (Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

Economic status

Economic status is one of the main factors determining a person’s social status. Ideally, skills and knowledge are related to activities one can do in society. Therefore, people are paid depending on what they can do.

For example, income is one of the main ways to measure a person’s economic status, Indicating their financial situation. In this regard, people who can afford expensive cars and houses are considered to have a higher economic class than the average members of society. (Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)


Race is a master status that discriminates against people depending on their race. Historically, people of color have been discriminated against across Western countries. For instance, people of color were sold into servitude and did not enjoy US citizenship during the dark period of US slavery.

However, even after the end of slavery, black people have continued facing discrimination on various issues, such as voter suppression and denial of access to housing in white neighborhoods. It is a socially constructed concept that people use to distinguish themselves and discriminate against others of a different race.

 Sexual Orientation

A person’s sexual attraction determines their sexual orientation toward another person. In this case, sex orientation is a key component of a person’s identity, establishing their position within society based on their qualities and characteristics.

Sexual orientation is a master status to determine hierarchy in modern society. Ideally, society views heterosexuality and homosexuality differently, which determines their position. For instance, today’s society stigmatizes homosexuality, whereas heterosexuality is seen as a norm, making it a more natural orientation.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)


Religion is another master status that helps to determine a person’s social status. People use religion to create their identities and distinguish the groups they associate with. Specifically, religious status is determined by the level of commitment a person has toward their religion. For instance, the clergy is given more respect in society, granting them a higher status than others. 

Physical Abilities

Physical characteristics differentiate one from another, which makes a physical ability a master status. this is the ability of the body and mind to perform and deal with challenges. For example, people who participate in manual labor often engage in physical activities that can damage the body, reducing their ability. As a result, they can be excluded from taking certain actions which require given physical abilities.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

Physical disability is a master status as it limits a person’s actions and, consequently, their power in society. However, if disability did not exist, people with disabilities would not face discrimination and oppression as these aspects mainly rely on their inability to perform given tasks.


People of different ages in the community have different roles and duties. For instance, children are supposed to be protected according to the law. Also, they are not held accountable for their crimes and are restricted from working among other adult-related activities. Additionally, people grant seniors more respect in society for being elders. As a result, they are given access to special health care and taken care of due to their age.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

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Roles of Master Statuses

Master status within society has different roles as follows;

  • Reduce conflict- master statuses categorize people and assign roles differently. In this case, there is a defined structure of how everyone should behave and operate, which helps to reduce conflicts. For instance, if an Individual harms another person, they can face a trial before the court.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)
  • Determine behavior- A person exhibits characteristics and behaviors based on the identity and position of a certain community. in this case, a person adopts different roles that benefit them. For instance, women are submissive, while men lead families.
  •  Distinction- master statuses allow people to be distinguished depending on their social status and abilities. For instance, men can help women handle tasks that require a lot of physical effort and energy. 

Ranks of Master Statuses

There are different ranks of master statuses in society which helps distinguish members of the society. For instance, the Pope has the highest rank among the church leadership in the Roman Catholic church. These ranks are determined by the following;(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

  • Amount of respect they receive from the members of the community.
  • The importance attached to this ranks
  • The authority given to them by the community of government
Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example


  1. What is a status?

Status is the relative social position within a group.

  1. How is a status different from a role?

While status defines position within a social group, roles are the behaviors that society expects individuals of a given social status to exhibit.(Examples of Master Status in Sociology Essay Example)

  1. What are the different types of statuses?

The three types of statuses include achieved status, master status, and ascribed status.

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