How Status Spreads
Author(s): Murray Webster Jr., Lisa Slattery Walker
Abstract: PurposernTo review three theoretical research programs accounting for the spread of status beliefs and their effects on inequality, and to identify similarities and differences in scope and theoretical principles in the three. We describe suggestions for further research that we hope readers may wish to pursue.rnMethodology/approachrnWe summarize recent theory and research, identify areas of overlap and dissimilarity, and show how certain research topics could extend understanding of the processes and make connections among the three programs.rnFindingsrnThe three programs were built on ideas first codified more than five decades ago. Those ideas have been the foundation for empirical research and findings from that have been used to develop the theories, improving the range of situations addressed and the precision of predictions. While the programs here address similar issues, each presumes different initial conditions and behavioral outcomes. With some overlap, the programs also address different situations and propose different mechanisms for the spread of status.rnResearch limitationsrnOur review of the programs is necessarily incomplete, because work continues on the programs. The analyses and suggestions about important topics to pursue are ours, and others may identify other topics for theoretical and empirical development.rnPractical implicationsrnWe hope that our interpretations of these programs make them more accessible to interested scholars who will extend the theoretical and empirical bases of the work. The processes described have implications for the status of immigrant groups, the social position of women, and the value attached to collector’s objects. We hope to foster applications of these theories to understand and alleviate some cases of unmerited inequality.rnSocial implicationsrnThe processes involved affect mixed-gender interaction in businesses, hiring biases, anti-immigrant exclusion sentiments, influence and bargaining power of individuals, desirability of certain furniture and clothing styles, ability inferences, and other phenomena. We mention instances where these theories can help to understand processes and to develop interventions to produce desirable outcomes.rnOriginality/valuernNo readily accessible summary of these programs and no theoretical comparison of them has yet been developed. Formal theories such as these sometimes seem obscure and we hope to show how they apply to important actual situations. Of course, the interpretations and suggestions in this chapter are our own and the scholars whose work we discuss might interpret the work differently.rn
Publication Title: Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 34
Pub Year: 2017
Pages: 1 – 19
Keywords: status, status beliefs, power, inequality, migrations

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