Status Symbols

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Status Symbols

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To make sense of various forms of inequality in society, sociologists consider people’s economic position, their power, and the prestige or honour they hold in the eyes of others. Inequalities can be manifest in both material and symbolic ways, including what a person owns, their health and body, relationships, style of dress, speech and behaviour, and credentials. Sociological research considers how something as seemingly personal as one’s taste in music or food can reflect broader dimensions of power and social stratification.

Research by Sociologists

Bourdieu, P. (1987). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Routledge.

DiMaggio, P. (2019). Social structure, institutions, and cultural goods: The case of the United States. In Social theory for a changing society (pp. 133-166). Routledge.

Johnston, J., & Baumann, S. (2014). Foodies: Democracy and distinction in the gourmet foodscape. Routledge.

Marx, K. (2004). Capital: Volume I. Penguin.

Meszaros, J. (2017). American men and romance tourism: Searching for traditional trophy wives as status symbols of masculinity. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 225-242.

Siebert, S. (2020). Symbolic demarcation: the role of status symbols in preserving interprofessional boundaries. Journal of Professions and Organization, 7(1), 47-69.

Wallace, D. (2017). Reading ‘race’ in Bourdieu? Examining black cultural capital among black Caribbean youth in south London. Sociology, 51(5), 907-923.

Wright, E. O. (2015). Understanding class. Verso Books.

Sociology Courses at UVic

If you would like to explore status systems and social inequality in more depth, the Department offers a number of courses you might be interested in:

SOCI100A – Introduction to Sociology: Understanding Social Life
SOCI100B – Introduction to Sociology: Understanding Contemporary Society
SOCI202 – Constructing Social Problems
SOCI204 – Self, Identity and Society
SOCI215 – Class and Social Inequality
SOCI220 – Media and Contemporary Society
SOCI235 – Racialization and Ethnicity
SOCI383 – Feminisms in Theory and Practice
SOCI385 – Sociology of Aging
SOCI436 – Issues in Sociology and Social Justice
SOCI438 – Issues in Contemporary Sociology
SOCI439A – Community Engaged Sociology I
SOCI439B – Community Engaged Sociology II