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Journal Article

Status Characteristics and Social Interaction

Joseph Berger, Bernard P. Cohen and Morris Zelditch, Jr.
American Sociological Review
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jun., 1972), pp. 241-255
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2093465
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Status Characteristics and Social Interaction
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Abstract

This paper discusses the small groups literature on status organizing processes in decision-making groups whose members differ in external status. This literature demonstrates that status characteristics, such as age, sex, and race determine the distribution of participation, influence, and prestige among members of such groups. This effect is independent of any prior cultural belief in the relevance of the status characteristic to the task. To explain this result, we assume that status determines evaluations of, and performance-expectations for group members and hence the distribution of participation, influence, and prestige. We stipulate conditions sufficient to produce this effect. Further, to explain the fact that the effect is independent of prior cultural belief, we assume that a status characteristic becomes relevant in all situations except when it is culturally known to be irrelevant. Direct experiment supports each assumption in this explanation independently of the others. Subsequent work devoted to refining and extending the theory finds among other things that, given two equally relevant status characteristics, individuals combine all inconsistent status information rather than reduce its inconsistency. If this result survives further experiment it extends the theory on a straightforward basis to multi-characteristic status situations.

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