Status Symbols. Sociology Help

Status Symbols.

One of the rewards of higher social status is' to be recognized as a superior. Since the rich and wellborn .look like other people, they need some means of ensuring-that their position is recognized. In the past, this has been found through the status symbol which can be any desirable trait or object whose supply' is sharply limited [Blumberg, 1974; p. 481],  such as private swimming pool, and diamond. Such items were valued as much for their status shouting as for their utility or beauty. The traditional status symbols appear to have lost some of their appeal in recent years. Incomes have risen, making these symbols available to a larger sector of the population. Most American families own automobiles, and over a third own two or more. By sacrificing other items or by using a secondhand car, it is fairly easy to get even the most expensive model. Genuine jewelry and furs may be beyond the reach of many people but imitations which can be detected only by experts make them available to most people. Concern for ecology has also made some status symbols less acceptable. Does a big car indicate success or simply a callous indifference to gasoline shortage and air pollution? . Sometimes the trend for fashion to filter down from the rich is reversed and the rich seem to be copying the po<?r. For instance, during' the 1970s the work clothing of the lower classes was copied by the affluent young (and some of their elders) . Even intangible symbols are no longer as effective as formerly. Golf is played by the assembly-line worker as well as by the professional. Television brings a wide variety of cultural fare into all American homes. A great majority of youths have from high school, and so many have been graduated from college that degrees have less and less status value. The homogenizing effects of American' social mobility are weakening both material and nonmaterial' status symbols. Status symbols still survive, however, as can be seen in ire practice of having a conspicuous designer label or some embroidered symbol (at this writing, an alligator). Blue jeans are not lower-class garments if labeled [oracle or Calvin Klein. Shoes are more than . utilitarian if made by Coccid or Bill Blass. Status symbols are still present, but the particular things which are status symbols may change over time.

Posted on September 4, 2014 in Social Class

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