How important is Status?

If you want to have a meaningful conversation about status, you have to consider that there are different types of status. People of course prefer a higher status to a lower status generally, but not every kind of status matters to everyone:

  • class status - ruler, noble, merchant, laborer, pariah?
  • social status: who are your friends and enemies? are you likely to be a friend or foe to me?
  • sexual status - are you desirable as a romantic partner?
  • financial status - are you financially dependent, or independent, or do you have surplus wealth?
  • power status - do you others determine your own fate, or vice versa?
  • employment status - are you useful to anyone?
  • ethnic/racial status - are you in the privileged group, or adjacent to it, or entirely outside it?
  • health status - do you have debilitating problems? do you seem contagious?
  • material status - are you capable of meeting your own needs without depending on others?

Everyone values some form of status at some season in their life. This is observation is so obvious that there’s no value in arguing it. The more interesting questions are:

  • what determines the types of status that people actively seek?
  • what are the signals of various types of status, and to what degree can they be subsituted for actual status?
  • what do people do when they can’t get the status they want? claim it by force, or fraud, or do they substitute some other form of status?
  • can society accommodate the status attainment that everyone wants? if not, what are our obligations to help someone attain a status level that they can live with?
  • is there any way to redirect the most toxic forms of status-seeking into less-harmful pursuits?

and so on and so forth.

To tie back to the earlier statement about people who “don’t care about status”, a closer analysis would probably show that this person is able to minimize some status pursuits because they have maximized others. i.e. I am not of super-high class status, nor am I young and desirable, but I don’t think much about that because I am well enough served by other forms of status (material status, wealth status, racial status). In fact I’m so well-served by those that I tend to neglect my health status, which isn’t a wise choice, but it’s a choice that is shared by many in similar circumstances.

Yes, that was very well framed, my personal situation is similar to yours. so I have no real need for further status emotionally or in other ways but it does seem a lot of people seem to be on this endless quest. It makes for a vulnerable less stable society I believe.

I’m reminded of old ladies who jabber about all their various ailments whenever they get together. It always seemed like such a weird behavior, unless it’s some sort of status thing.

I’ve often found that when people advance an absolute black and white idea, and are willing to fight tooth and nail about being dead serious about whatever it is, they are projecting. This is why they sound ridiculous to others, but sane to themselves.

You might find The Inner Circle by C.S. Lewis germane.

(Notice the subtle status-seeking behavior by using a two-dollar word where a ten-cent word would do perfectly well.)

People in this thread are talking about definition 1 rather than 2 or 3, and someone’s health status isn’t the point of the thread.

A point of disagreement between posters may be that some people think of status in terms of 1b, high prestige, although others seem to be discussing the issue of rank more generally.

I really don’t care anymore about high prestige, although that certainly isn’t true of my throughout my life. I was caught up chasing that before. I think it came from growing up on the wrong side of a particular street in Salt Lake the divided the rich, cool kids from the middleclass trash.

Now I don’t care.