Status and power

Gertjan Steede writes,

status is, first and foremost, something that we claim, give and receive in everyday interaction. As a result, a status hierarchy develops in society and in every group within society. Depending on the group’s activities, that hierarchy could be more or less obvious. It will simultaneously be expressed in all kinds of currency: kindness, power, beauty, skill, daring, money – to name a few. I am claiming status by writing this blog, and if you read it to the end, you are giving me status.

While status is about voluntary acts, power is about everything that people coerce one another into. We use power when we receive status insults, or if we have learned that this is a good way of obtaining what we want.

. . .In fact, we people play the status-power game all our lives. If something “gives us energy”, it means it gives us status. We like those whom we can count on to give status to us. In contrast, we long to give status to those we love. We claim status, by being nice or showing off. The status-power game is our life. We do nothing else.

Read the whole post. I think his concepts of status and power map to the distinction between a prestige hierarchy and a dominance hierarchy that I learned from Joseph Henrich.

The post also supports my intuition that people turn to dominance moves when they cannot attain status through prestige. Regulating other people’s speech is an example.