Sociology Index

Master Status

Master status is status that overrides all others in perceived importance. The master status, whether ascribed status or achieved status, overshadows all other social positions of the status. Master status is significant for social identity. race or ethnic group and ethnic identity, sexual orientation and religion are some stand out examples of master status. The female master status area is the family, employment is subsidiary to it; the male master status area is employment, the family is subsidiary to it. Whatever other personal or social qualities the individual possesses, they are judged primarily by master status attribute. Master status is the role to which one most relates the view of oneself (Becker 1963). Criminal is an example of a master status that determines the community's identification of an individual.

Sociologists use both the concepts of class and status to describe the systems of social stratification. The term master status was coined by Everett Hughes. Master status is the primary identifying characteristic of an individual. Becker describes how certain rule-breakers come to accept the label of "deviant" as their master status. The rule breaker that identifies with the deviant label as their master status becomes an outsider.

Modern family or modernized family traditionalism? Master status and gender order in Switzerland - Rene Levy, Eric Widmer, Jean Kellerhals. Abstract: A study of intra-couple dynamics in Switzerland shows the existence of a large array of couples’ internal structures of regulation, but with a persistent core of traditionalism.

The concept of master status is used to interpret the fact that major changes point less towards clear-cut egalitarian. To define master status as meaning the dominance of one status area over the others in an individual’s participation profile, and to apply this definition to the complementarity of sex-specific master-statuses of the partners in a couple.

Gang Membership and Criminal Processing: A Test of the "Master Status" Concept - T D Miethe, R C McCorkle. To determine whether gang membership represents a master status that influenced both charging and sentencing decisions.

Abstract: The research developed a theoretical basis for considering gang membership as a master status. The research next derived hypotheses from this master status characterization of gang membership and estimated statistical models to determine whether different factors were used in processing and adjudicating gang and nongang members.

Results provided some support for the characterization of gang membership as a master status. In keeping with the master status characterization, sentencing decisions for gang members were far less likely than for nongang members to be affected by other offender and offense characteristics.