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Creating Status Characteristics

Murray Webster, Jr. and Stuart J. Hysom
American Sociological Review
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Jun., 1998), pp. 351-378
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657554
Page Count: 28
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Creating Status Characteristics
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Abstract

Status characteristics constitute significant elements of small group and societal stratification systems, and understanding their creation has theoretical and practical importance. We generalize Ridgeway's pathbreaking theory of status construction in three stages. First, we show that a conceptual change, using goal objects instead of exchangeable resources, permits us to explain the creation of many more status characteristics. Second, we explicate an interaction mechanism, behavior interchange patterns, that can transform other characteristics into status characteristics, even creating status differences where no characteristic is salient. Third, we show how new characteristics themselves can be created and given status value from deviance and personality attribution processes. We briefly note some parallels with other theorists' work, suggest some independent tests, and consider theoretical and applied implications of this work.

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