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achieved status

social position attained through individual effort and achievement

ascribed status

social position a person acquires through birth


system of organization based on rationality and efficiency

caste system

system of social stratification in which people are born into a certain class that determines their life trajectory

class system

system of social stratification in which individuals are born into a certain social position, with some people able to move up or down in the social structure over the course of their lives

downward mobility

moving from a higher social class to a lower social class

economic sociology

approach to sociology that examines how the economy relates to society

estate system

system of social stratification in which a wealthy class of aristocrats owns large tracts of land and hold power; workers are tied to a particular aristocrat or noble family

ideal type

concept proposed by Weber, referring to a set of features that is characteristic of a social or historical phenomenon


ties among families or networks of families

master status

social status that is considered the most important or exceptional


system in which people occupy positions according to their abilities and achievements


small group of people who hold all or most power in a society and rule for their own benefit


structured group with an identifiable membership that engages in collective action

primary group

group in which members share close, personal relationships

secondary group

group characterized by impersonal relationships among people who cooperate to achieve a common goal

social capital

resources acquired through networks of relationships that grant access to power and opportunity

social mobility

movement of individuals and groups up and down within overall social structure and social hierarchy

social network

network composed of relationships between people who interact for various reasons

social role

behavior associated with a social status

social stratification

hierarchical ranking of social groups based on unequal levels of wealth, power, and social status

social structure

organized pattern of relationships and social institutions that make up a society


position an individual holds within a society

status hierarchy system

system of social stratification based on degrees of social prestige, tied to factors including wealth, occupation, lifestyle, and membership in respected groups

status set

collection of statuses held by an individual

upward mobility

moving to a higher social class from a lower social class