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Positions Are Unequal

Status positions are not usually equal. Inequality seems to be inherent in almost all social structures.

Unequal Power

Social power refers to the ability one actor has for achieving his or her will in relation to others in the social organization.

A position that one occupies within an organization determines the amount of power that person had to accomplish her/his will over others.

One primary motivation for seeking promotions is to have more power to accomplish one’s will.

It is critical to recognize that class, gender, and race are structures with positions, and these positions also have power attached to them. In general, although it is not necessarily right, the wealthy have greater power in society than the poor, men have more power than women, whites have more power than nonwhites.

This is not a “law” of social nature—but rather a picture of the current situation within the United States. As society evolves—these power positions can change.

Unequal Prestige

Prestige refers to the honor that people in social structure accord the position.

Many of us seek positions that give us honor by others. Self-respect may be personal to some extent: I am good, intelligent, honest, capable. However, self-respect also comes from “who we are” in relation to others. It is associated with the position we fill in social structure.  

Unequal Privileges

Positions also bring with them privileges, the good things so to speak, the benefits, the opportunities that come to those filling the position. These privileges may be high income and other material benefits, opportunity to choose one’s own office furniture, choice of home, long vacations, a secretary, quality schooling, an expensive car.

In addition to role and an identity, then, each status position also has a certain amount of power, a certain degree of prestige, and privileges attached—or denied.

Different amounts of power, prestige, and privilege create the inequality within the social structure.

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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