1. Introduction and Summary
Again and again, research findings show that relative socio-economic rank is highly associated with nearly every kind of behavior.
---- Kriesberg, 1963
For individuals and groups alike, status is clearly one of the major determinants of social behavior.
---- Adams, 1953
"More behavior" does not mean a greater range of social behaviors, but rather a higher relative frequency. Thus, if conflict were a status-behavior, the higher status person would tend to have more conflict.
We also find that people with high rank support the status quo. Those with high statuses have benefited from the existing system. Their wealth and high power assures them of the means to maintain their high relative statuses. Since the current order supports and permitted their attainments, it is to be maintained. "Those people who benefit most from the stratification system are most likely to accept it."
The discussion so far implies that those having high ranks also are likely to have, much interaction and cooperation (both support the status quo). Galtung (1966b, pp. 150-51) makes this explicit.
Interaction will often presuppose resources just as much as it will beget resources; for that reason there will be more interaction, the more resources are present. But, in addition to that, the topdog unit will prefer to interact with another topdog unit for the simple reason that he can get more rewards with another top dog than an underdog. The topdog unit will at times want to interact with an underdog unit to get the kind of services the underdog can give him, and the underdog will certainly want to interact with the topdog unit. But to the extent that we assume that any unit will try to interact with the top because that is most rewarding, two topdog units will be at an advantage because their wishes correspond to each other, whereas the wishes of two underdog units will never correspond to each other and the wishes of one topdog and one underdog unit only sometimes. And from this simple reasoning the proposition about how total rank of pairs is related to amount of interaction is a necessary consequence,|
As in Chapter 17, define a high status as an
alpha (A), the middle status a mu (M), and the low status the omega (). Then if person high on two statuses (an AA) supports the status quo, who is that attacks the prevailing order? Theory and evidence suggest that such attacks will come not from the statuses initially, but from the disequilibrated statuses
By virtue of the support that higher-ranking people give to the status quo and their greater interaction, the higher the rank of two people, the more they tend towards solidarity. The status elite share similar interests, join the same economic, political, and social organizations, interact and cooperate more, and therefore develop solidary bonds. Those at the top are enmeshed in intersecting activities and relationships. The old-boy-club is not confined to the graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, but is a phenomena among the top ranks of any society.
We can all perceive the difference between ourselves and our inferiors, but when it comes to a question of the difference between us and our superiors, we fail to appreciate merits of which we have no proper conception.
---- James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat
The rank of two people only reflects one aspect of their relative status. To focus alone on this, as do those concerned with collusion among elites and their control over society, is to miss a central conflict relevant element in statuses: their mutual balance. The rank of two people is surely important in understanding their behavior. But so is their relative status disequilibrium.
To show this, I will consider some psychological aspects of status. A person needs self-assertion that includes success, recognition, being looked up to, and so on. This need is actualized through an emphasis on one's dominant status and on the other's subordinate status in interaction. A person with A statuses, for example, will emphasize his A when interacting with others,
As a result of this disposition status disequilibrium causes cognitive dissonance. Consider the plight of the person with unbalanced statuses. He emphasizes his dominant status in interaction, while others accentuate his low status. There is thus an imbalance between his social behavior, the behavior he receives, and the behavior he feels he should receive.
That status disequilibrium produces stress for the individual, resulting in stress-reducing behavior, is Lenski's (1966, pp. 86-87) central argument. Empirical studies, however, do not consistently support this view. "Despite a long history of great interest in the problem the available evidence only weakly confirms the central assumption that imbalanced ranks generate strain and efforts to restore balance. Contradictory results have been obtained, supposedly positive results are sometimes quite inconclusive, and it is often necessary to invent ad hoc principles to explain peculiar results in particular cases" (Zelditch and Anderson, 1966, p. 245).
Balance theory, as generalized by Cartwright, Norman and Harary (1965), provides a useful model of what I mean by dissonance.
In Figure 18.1a, i's evaluation of his low status is shown by the negative valued line between i and si; j's emphasis on i's low status is shown by the positive valued line between j and si; and positive interaction between i and j is indicated by the positive valued line connecting i and j. Since there are two positive relationships and one negative, the situation is unbalanced and cognitive dissonance results. In Figure 18.1b i has a positive evaluation and j a negative one of i's high status, while the relationship between i and j is positive. Here also i suffers from cognitive dissonance.
This motivates i to balance his behavior and status. How can he do this? Clearly, he can alter his behavior, for example, become antagonistic, and thereby eliminate the dissonance. And it is this frustration-aggression resolution which sociologists like Lenski would predict. However, there are also psychological mechanisms involved which make this outcome less predictable. For one thing, the dissonance creates forces in i's psychological field which may alter his perception of the other's behavior. The other may simply not be perceived as emphasizing i's low status, as may be the case if j is also perceived as very important to gratifying some of i's other needs (j may be i's wife), or if i initially believes that j thinks very highly of him. Thus, dissonance is eliminated through misperception--a common phenomena.
We man also tolerate dissonance and control it through our integrated self. Our movement towards our superordinate goal, around which we integrate our motivations, temperaments, and so on, may not be consistent with altering our behavior to eliminate dissonance. For example, a student working towards his Ph.D.--his superordinate goal--may find himself dissonant regarding an important professor in his discipline. Change towards antagonistic behavior to right his dissonance would be unwise, to say the least, since the professor may influence others to prevent his getting the Ph.D. Moreover, the student may have a strong ego, and a realistic contact with social reality. In this situation, he could well tolerate the dissonance until he gets his degree.
As a result of these mechanisms--the dynamics of misperception and the dissonance of a superordinate goal--no overt behavior may result from status dissonance. Nonetheless, we can presume that there is a tendency to alter behavior, and for my purposes this tendency is all I need postulate.
Status dissonance is only one step in relating disequilibrium to behavior, however. The second is to note that common statuses between people provide them with similar interests and a communication bridge. Basic to much sociological thinking, this idea ties into the "cross pressures" concept used by Coleman (1957), Dahrendorf (1959), and Coser (1956),
Moreover, those sharing a status have a common interest regarding those not sharing it, as the poor versus the wealthy and the powerful versus the weak. Preserving or improving the common status provides a platform upon which those sharing the status can unite, to paraphrase Marx very loosely. As Landecker puts it (1963, p. 220):
For the incumbent of a highly crystallized class status, the structured core of the class system is likely to be the immediate and salient environment. Here he will find others whose similar status characteristics provide him with a basis for intimate contacts. By the same token he has little or nothing in common with those whose respective statuses are strongly crystallized on either a higher or a lower status level than his. It may be assumed then, that the experience of a clear-cut equalities with some and inequalities with others tend to evoke an acute consciousness of class.
Considering then both status dissonance and the importance of shared statuses, the more two people are status-incongruent the more their relationships are uncertain and the more incongruent their expectations of each other's behavior.
Past writers have suggested that status inconsistents labor under a variety of difficulties: unsatisfactory social relationships, unstable self-images, rewards out of line with aspiration, and social ambiguity. It may be that the basic problem underlying all these is that of conflicting expectations. An individual's rank on a status dimension controls, in part, his expectations of others, his expectations of himself, and others' expectations of him. These expectations and the degree to which they are fulfilled control, in part, the individual's image of himself. When a person holds high rank on one status dimension and low rank on another, the expectations (both those held by the individual and by others) mobilized by the rank positions will often be in conflict
---- Jackson, 1962, pp. 269-70.
Clearly, status is linked to expectations, and indeed some have defined expectations as part of status.
Status-congruence operates in this way. If i and j are status-congruent, as when both have A statuses, then their common and A statuses are positive links. These links facilitate communication between i and j through their common interests and serve as a bridge across which they cooperate with each other. Moreover, a common status means that they will share a similar status oriented social perspective, as towards the political status quo. If i has A (or A) statuses while j has A (or A), however, then not only is there dissonance within i and j and incongruence in their mutual expectations, but there are no status-links to compensate for the incongruence. Indeed, these differences in status mean i and j have different views, different interests, and different grounds for understanding, all of which feed their mutual uncertainty and incongruence in expectations.
This incongruence in expectations results from i perceiving j consistent with j's lower status, while j emphasizes his higher status behaviorally. Thus, a rich Northeastern senator may view a Southern senator as a backward farmer and expect him to behave accordingly. The other, however, contrary to these expectations, may consistently emphasize his senatorial power in all social relations.
Sampson (1963) has published a thoughtful analysis of status congruence and expectations.
The conditions necessary for the continuation of the social order, which are also the conditions necessary for the continuation of the individual who is at all points dependent on that social order, include at minimum an anticipatory knowledge of the behavior which may be expected of the other participants in a given interaction situation. The organization of this anticipatory knowledge into a model of expectations about the social and physical environment, and the demands for an internally consistent and an externally valid model, provide the basic framework for deriving predictions about individual and group behavior, and for explaining the already existing theory and research on the variable of status congruence.
Coordinating status position with expectations and status congruence with expectancy congruence permits one to discuss status equilibration or status congruence tendencies within individuals and within social structures in terms of the more general principle of expectancy congruence. The effects of low status congruence for the individual as well as for the group--e.g., dissatisfaction, lowered productivity, lowered cohesiveness become a function of the problems involved in coordinating one's behavior with the behavior of others in a situation which is characterized by multiple and conflicting expectations for one's and the other's behavior.
From our culture and experience we learn to expect from others certain behavior associated with their status. Thus, to define a person as poor or powerless is to expect in particular situations behavior aligned with those statuses. Status-incongruence between two people, however, means that they have a tendency to misperceive each other's status, and thus to have incorrect status-expectations. Through this, the importance of expectations, one of four cornerstones of the dynamic psychological field,
For now, the previous discussion enables me to explicitly interrelate the various aspects of status and social behavior. First, the more similar in wealth, the more people are disposed towards mutual solidarity. Wealth is an achieved status and common achievement is a strong social bond. People who are similarly wealthy usually share education, occupation, or professional rank, ability, interests, ideologies, and so on. They have a common pride of achievement, a need and desire to interact, to exchange, to coordinate. The poor cooperate with each other to pool resources against the wealthy, to overcome their status deprivations, and to coordinate their sociopolitical interests. Unions, consumer groups and boycotts, and populist movements manifest this.
A common power status, however, is not such a force for solidarity. Certainly, similar power status provides an interest and some basis for understanding and communication. However, the competitive nature of power weakens whatever support it gives for cooperation. People who are similar in wealth can be cooperative and noncompetitive. A person of greater wealth, while having a status position one desires and thus perhaps the source of some envy, will not usually have control over us (unless wealth also includes slaves). But power is control over people, and the one who is more powerful actually or potentially has control over us. Equal power is therefore an unstable situation, in which there is uncertainty as to who controls whom, in which two people vie to establish a hierarchy, if not completely, at least concerning certain interests.
Wealthy people can cooperate fully and without anxiety; powerful people also can cooperate, to be sure, but with prudence. Moreover, unlike wealth, which usually can be acquired regardless of race, religion, sex, or class (indeed, occupations leading to wealth are outlets for socially disenfranchised groups--witness the history of the Jews), power is partially ascribed. Routes to power are circumscribed and limited by race, religion, sex, national origin, or class. Thus, Sociopolitical power is usually limited to males, no Christian can rise to power in a Moslem society, nor a white in black African societies. And the Jew in many societies has been deprived of any power but that of employer. Moreover, there is the inherited power of monarchies and aristocracies, and the traditional power of certain families.
Thus, while interaction among some people having similar power may exceed that between those differing in power, power similarity alone does not predict mutual solidarity. Actually, their mutual behavior may be almost wholly conflictful (as between two gang leaders or presidential contenders). Unlike status in power, equal wealth does facilitate solidarity.
Status-theory's central point about status-disequilibrium is that the resulting strain, frustration, and ambiguity cause conflict. At the psychological level, this conflict could be intrapunitive, as with suicide. Whether the strain and frustration will produce inward or outward directed behavior depends on how wealth and power statuses balance. If power is largely ascribed and less in status than wealth, which is achieved, then antagonistic behavior may result; if wealth is lower in status, intrapunitive behavior is likely.
To whom will this antagonistic behavior be directed? If, for instance, a person has A statuses, what will be the object person's status characteristics? Clear answers are not found in the status literature, for the focus is on a person's status as impetus to action, on the actor; there is little concern with the object. The literature notwithstanding, the discussion heretofore provides an answer.
Simplifying as before and remembering that the first status is wealth and the second power, the object can have AA, A, A, and statuses. Now, I have argued that the A and statuses for actor and object provide one solidary link (), but the dissimilar power-status can cause uncertainty for the actor and furnish an antagonistic path, actor to object.
The A and AA statuses are an analogous case, with one link (although a less solidary one) and one source of ambiguity. The A and A statuses for actor and object is the worst combination. Not only is the actor disequilibrated but so is the object, producing a reinforcing conflict atmosphere (as two angry individuals bumping into each other). Moreover, no status links exist to moderate misunderstanding and uncertainty resulting from their dissimilar statuses.
Consider now people jointly having A statuses (high wealth, low power). With two status links existing and being similarly unbalanced, they should have the least conflict. They can unite to improve their status, for they have common problems and bases of understanding.
In summary, a disequilibrated actor will tend to direct the most conflict behavior towards a dissimilarly disequilibrated object and the least towards an object sharing the same disequilibrium. Two people's status incongruence is positively correlated with their mutual antagonism.
This conclusion is consistent with empirical results. For example, in their investigation of congruence and interpersonal conflict relationships in decision-making groups, Exline and Ziller (1959, p. 158) concluded that significant "differences in the incidence of interpersonal conflict were, without exception associated with the predicted effects of status congruence."
At the nation level, Wallace (1970) has tested hypothesis relating status inconsistency and war. Measuring system level status inconsistency, he confirmed one hypothesis linking status inconsistency to war through its effect on creating intergovernmental organizations and on arms levels, and another hypothesis tying status inconsistency to alliance aggregation. Moreover, he found a direct (but weak) link between inconsistency and war. He concluded (p. 23) that his results "appear to confirm the importance of [status-inconsistency] as a cause of war [and] they would also appear to confirm Johan Galtung's hypothesis, linking such differential changes in rank position to conflict via their tendency to produce status discrepancies."
Before Galtung, Jackson, and Lenski elaborated the status disequilibrium concept, Sorokin had published similar ideas using different terms. Sorokin defined a large group of similarly disequilibrated individuals as a disaffine strata (as the powerless rich or the powerful poor) who were unstable, tending to decompose into an affine (balanced) multibonded (on multiple dimensions) strata. In his words (1969, p. 294):
|Concrete forms of the innerly disaffine multibonded strata have been very diverse in human history. When such strata are small, the decomposition passes without notice. But when they are large, the process of their decomposition and replacement by the new affine multibonded strata becomes quite "noisy" and ordinarily assumes the form of riots, revolts, conquests, revolutions, wars, or radical social reform movements. As a matter of fact there has hardly been any important historical internal revolution or reform which has not been due, to a large extent, to the existence of such "abnormal" strata and has not consisted, to a large extent also, in the "reaction of transposition." Before any revolution or reform in a society there are always some such strata and when the smoke screen of revolutionary movement has passed, one ordinarily finds new affine strata.|
Status is Janus faced--a solidary influence when embodied in high rank, and a generator of antagonism between the status incongruents. Yet, in social reality, these two faces are unified, a whole. Status is not a matter of rank, then a matter of incongruence. It is both together within the social field. Although we can cognitively carve up the social field in different ways and intellectually isolate and study its different aspects to aid our understanding, as I have done for status, the field itself is a whole in which these aspects are simply an observer's different angles of view into the social gestalt.
If rank and incongruence thus are unified organically, then status dependent interaction itself must manifest one direction. The flow of behavior between two people is not divided like a rainbow into separate colors, here solidary, there antagonistic, here cooperative, there conflictful. Rather, social interaction as a transactional conversation between people is a flowing process, whose direction may change from moment to moment, but which at any moment comprises a unitary identity.
This flow is not wholly directed by status, for norms, values, cultural expectations, nonstatus interests, and class are potent influences.
First, for the wealthy actor, the tendency towards antagonistic behavior depends on power distance and existing solidary and contractual interaction. The more powerful the other person and the less solidary and contractual behavior with him, then the more likely one is to be antagonistic towards him. For the well-off, another's power breeds antagonism, unless mitigated by cooperative interaction.
Thus, the rich can interact with each other at a high level of solidarity on the basis of their joint wealth. They share similar interests associated with this high status, belong to the same organizations and clubs, intermarry, and define "good taste." Politically, they wish to maintain the system from which they derive their rights and privileges. Wealth is their bond, their cooperative fink.
Nor is wealth a platform of antagonism against the poor. The poor and weak are ignored; the wealthy have little to do with them outside of contractual behavior. They are the outside world, the periphery, with their noses pressed to the glass looking in at high Society.
The more the power of another, unrestrained by collaboration or cooperative arrangements, then the more likely relations are to be antagonistic regardless of whether the other is rich or poor. Solidary and contractual behavior give another an investment--a stake--in further cooperation. It imbeds power in a web of constraints.
Nonetheless, solidary behavior by itself does not assure against status-conflict, as any family member knows. Insofar as status-related conflict is concerned, cooperative behavior is secondary. What is crucial between a wealthy person and another is their power relation. The dominance in power of the wealthy over others encourages nonconflictful behavior. Let the other gain in power relative to the rich and powerful, however, and the tendency is towards antagonistic behavior.
So much for the wealthy. Now for the poor. The second conclusion to be derived from the conjunction of the determinants of status-behavior is that the poor hinge their status-conflict around their distances in wealth: the wealthier the other and the less solidary and contractual their interaction, the greater the antagonistic behavior. For the poor, another's wealth is the seat of antagonism unless eased by cooperative interaction.
The poor have few cooperative links with the rich; their interests differ. They benefit little from the status quo, and even if power is shared as a status between rich and poor, it does not provide a compensating bond. Distance in wealth is the crucial variable for the poor.
As with power for the wealthy, cooperative interaction can ease the influence of the wealth-distance on antagonism. Solidary relationships, contractual interaction, can overcome the tendency of the poor to be antagonistic to the wealthy. Thus, the maid can become a solidary and nonantagonistic member of a well-to-do family; or the worker befriended by his wealthy boss can become quite loyal and supportive of him against other workers. Nonetheless, cooperative interaction is secondary and mitigating. The wealth-distance basically determines antagonistic dispositions.
Finally, what if the actor is in the middle class? Then distances in wealth and power from others tend to be moderate, and behavior towards the rich or poor, powerful or weak will not be intense, nor wide in scope. This is reflected in the role the middle class and middle elite play in society. They moderate extremes and comprise the balance wheel of society, as Aristotle observed long ago: neither overly solidary as between equals nor overly antagonistic as between great unequals, their behavior moderates differences. By subduing and combining their separate behavior consequences in themselves, the middle class tends to stabilize a moving status quo against the conservative rigidity of the powerful rich, and the revolutionary enthusiasm of the powerless poor.
So far I have considered solidarity or antagonism as tendencies, dispositions. But I have not linked the over-all impact of status to manifest behavior. This is because the empirical direction of behavior, its tonality, is not given us by status alone. To be sure, as already discussed, some social theorists will point to status disequilibrium or incongruence as a cause of conflict, or to rank equality as a stimulus to cooperation, but each will emphasize his cause to the neglect of the other. However, whether of congruence or rank, status is entwined with other facets of the dyadic social relationship. Nonstatus values, norms, and meanings are also involved; personality, nonstatus interests, and expectations must be weighted; and class-distance is not to be forgotten. Consequently, for example, power-distance may underlie a tendency towards solidarity or antagonism for the wealthy, but which in fact is the behavior depends on the interests and expectations, the values and norms, and the class involved. In total, then, we find that the social space contains individuals and their status-distances from each other. These distances are vector forces towards behavior, but their total effect depends on the other distances, which as vectors comprise the dynamic nature of the sociocultural field and help generate social behavior.
* Scanned from Chapter 18 in R.J. Rummel, The Conflict Helix, 1976. For full reference to the book and the list of its contents in hypertext, click book. Typographical errors have been corrected, clarifications added, and style updated.
1. Besides the opening quotes, see also Sorokin (1969) and Homans (1961). Some social scientists consider status to be the "key to the problem" of racial prejudice (Van Den Berghe, 1960).
2. "Those who regularly associate with a person of high prestige status, come, in some mysterious fashion, to 'participate' in that prestige, at least to the extent of raising their own.... Per contra, close association with those of markedly lower prestige status tends to degrade. These facts explain in large part the ceaseless struggle of those of low prestige to lessen the physical, and a fortiori the social distance separating them from those of high prestige; and the no less determined efforts of those of high prestige to avoid physical and a fortiori social propinquity with those of lower prestige" (Benoit-Smullyan, 1944, p. 157).
3. Based on a survey of small group empirical studies, Collins and Guetzkow (1964) suggest the following propositions. "High power-status persons will initiate more communication than low status persons" (p. 171). "When there is an established power status hierarchy, all group members will direct more communication to high power-status persons" (p. 172). For empirical findings on the differences in behavior of high versus low status individuals, see Svalastoga (1959, 1965) and Kenkel (1965).
4. Berelson and Steiner (1964, p. 461).
5. See Bendix (1952), Lenski (1954, 1956, 1966), Lipset and Bendix (1962, p. 268), Mitchell (1964), Segal (1969), Sorokin (1969, p. 290), and Zelditch and Anderson (1966, p. 264).
6. A "unit which has an inconsistent pattern will press for interaction in the system where it ranks highest" (Galtung, 1966b, pp. 159-60).
7. "The greater the incongruence of simultaneously perceived status factors of the given individual, the more insecure is his status. This means that others are likely to react to that individual as if he had a lower status, than the one he really enjoys" (Malewski, 1966, p. 305).
8. Hewitt (1970, p. 21) coined the term "prestige bargaining" to define the process "in which each person seeks to gain the highest prestige possible in return for the least expenditure of recognition for the claims of others." Status-bargaining is the process underlying one's emphasis on his dominant and the other's subordinate statuses. It is also part of the conflict helix to be described in Part VI of this book.
9. "Relative deprivation" is a concept applicable here. This defines a person's self-evaluation of what he should have and what he does have compared to other individuals (or nations). However, an individual can make the same comparison internally regarding his own statuses. Person i believes j should base his behavior on i's high status; j, instead, bases it on i's low status. This imbalance between the status emphasized by j and what i thinks should be emphasized creates relative status deprivation. On this concept, see Landecker (1963).
10. On the relationship between status-disequilibrium and cognitive dissonance, see Sampson (1963). I am not adopting a frustration-aggression model here, as I will try to make clear in the subsequent Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective.
11. "Despite the large number of studies relating to status inconsistency, firm evidence about its behavioral consequences is meagre" (Broom and Jones, 1970. p. 990). The hypothesis that status disequilibrium causes stress which results in stress-reducing behavior has been successfully used to explain flying saucer sightings. "It is not, therefore, the uneducated credulous or the uninformed individual who reports saucers. Rather, it is the individual whose reward structure is out of line with his investment--that is, the status-inconsistent white male who has the highest education ranking but a moderate or low income or occupation ranking" (Warren, 1970, p. 603).
12. See also Segal (1969, p. 354), who used balance theory to define stress for status inconsistents.
13. Balance theory's sociological meaning is captured by the saying: "the friend of my friend is a friend, the enemy of my friend is an enemy, and the enemy of my enemy is a friend." See my Chapter 12 of The Dynamic Psychological Field for a more psychological treatment of cognitive dissonance.
14. Note that: "Many of the behaviors that political sociologists ascribe to 'cross pressures' may possibly be subsumed under the concept of status discrepancy" (Svalastoga, 1965, p. 66).
15. See, for example, Berger, Cohen, and Zelditch (1966, p. 3).
16. See also Jackson (1962, p. 470).
17. For an analysis building on Sampson's discussion of expectations, see Brandon (1965, pp. 272-88).
18. The others are personality, situation, and behavioral dispositions.
19. See Galtung (1966b, p. 142) and Jackson (1962, pp. 476-77).
20. This conclusion is defined more rigorously and stated mathematically in Rummel (1977, Chapter 9).
21. See also Wallace (1973).
22. On this I have been much misunderstood and must repeat. I do not view all social behavior as dependent on status. Status contributes as a force towards solidary or antagonistic behavior. It is dispositional. But there are other forces at work as well, such as those having to do with religious and political differences. Any particular behavior is a manifestation of all these forces, including the self and will. This is not to reduce the importance of status, but to argue that status, like all social elements, is imbedded in the sociocultural field.
23. For the logical derivation of these combined influences from the separable aspects of status, see Rummel (1977, Chapter 9).
24. This is a corollary to my Theorem 10. See Rummel (1977, Chapter 9).
25. This is a corollary to my Theorem 11. See Rummel (1977, Chapter 9).