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Diffuse Status Characteristics and the Spread of Status Value: A Formal Theory

Joseph Berger and M. Hamit Fişek
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 111, No. 4 (January 2006), pp. 1038-1079
DOI: 10.1086/498633
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/498633
Page Count: 42
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Diffuse Status Characteristics and the Spread of Status Value: A Formal Theory
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Abstract

The authors present a formal theory of the social construction of diffuse status characteristics. The theory is formulated within the framework of earlier work on status construction by Ridgeway and others and uses the mathematical framework of the theory of status characteristics and expectation states. This theory describes how an initially nonvalued characteristic can acquire status value and generalized expectation states from its association with already established and valued status elements. The authors derive eight theorems from their theory that describe different conditions under which the initially nonvalued characteristic acquires such status value. They consider illustrative applications of the theory and some research that is relevant to the formulation. The authors then conclude with a discussion of the implications of their formulation for the general understanding of status organizing processes.

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