“All are equal”, “Everyone has red blood”, “All students/employees are equal” are some of the most common quotes that are thrown around arbitrarily with little to no relevance. But, lot of times this doesn’t hold true, society values some people more than others. There is hierarchy in all walks of life. The distribution of power is not equal in any measure, be it financial, educational or any art. Though we choose to be blind to it, it is as bright as day that we perpetuate this behavior. Despite the fact that the quantification of power may vary among cultures, the common denominator is the status, higher your power, higher your status.
Status By Social Capital
Schools, Academic institutions are the first encounter of hierarchies and varying status. Schools tell you that all students are equal in the eyes of the teacher, but we cannot deny the fact the nature of school creates hierarchies and cliques based on certain parameters. It is a universal fact that the kid who scores more marks is automatically of the highest status in the academic hierarchy and is seen in good light by the teaching staff. Meanwhile, the lowest occupants of the hierarchy, the “F” grade fillers, are automatically assigned lower status. And cliques are prompted to be formed when the teachers tell “You are a topper, you should not hang out with failures”, this will form circles on status, it is common to see seating arrangements which puts all the studious kids together and the naughty ones by default are put together. This is a good example of how your status determines with what kind of people you will encounter in your life and how your life will progress. This can be one of your early social capitals you earn.
Status By Economic Capital
This is the most well known status measure for a large population, Money. Economic capital is the most crucial quality to one’s well being in a capitalistic society. It determines to one’s access of every resource fathomable. Education, clothes, food, healthcare, housing and many more. Another leverage of economic capital is respect. The higher your earning power, the more respect you command in your society, it is common to see little to no earners disgruntled and disrespected by their peers. While the high earners are the apple of everyone’s eye, though their intentions may or may not be good, it doesn’t change the fact that they possess high status and that is what draws people to them.
Status As A Sum Of Varying Capitals
One thing we can notice about the above variables is some are born with access to those capitals. A child born to a wealthy family will by default have access to good education and healthcare which is a major aspect to his healthy life, and he has a chance of getting into a good school and forming good connections which can help him progress their career and in turn increasing his status. And on the other hand, a child born to a poverty stricken family has the odds stacked against him/her even before birth, they have a high chance of being born in an unsanitary place and are prone to be ill for most of their youth, and the obvious lack of money will hinder the quality of education and healthcare thereby reducing their quality of life and life expectancy. It is as clear as day that status is not something you can forge, it is something you are born with and will perpetuate it to your future children. Even though we see stories about rags to riches, these are exceptions to the rule and cannot be applied to everyone in my opinion.
Ascending in status is not an easy task, it’s a spiraling effect, higher status individuals ascend to higher status and lower status individuals keep plummeting. Your background is the biggest player in what sort of amenities you receive in your life. It is also easy to infer that the lower your status, the lower the quality of your health and mental well being. It is easy for affluent people to tell the less fortunate to invest in education and they will be better off in the future, but they do not have the resources or means to get the education, when they barely have enough to survive.
The Value Of Status
It is an undeniable, yet overlooked fact that all are not equal, your status is a sum of your social capital and economic capital, and your success in life is a majorly dependent on that. It is easy to say “Hard work leads to success”, but the level of hard work varies from individual to individual, hard work isn’t the right qualification to quantify. Your success in life is a sum of many things one cannot perceive, hard work isn’t the only variable, it is one variable.