Status shift

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A status shift is a transition from one social status to another, usually by choice.

Statuses may be mutually exclusive, or not. Consider, for example, contradictory statuses, like military and civilian, religious and non-religious, or noble and commoner. It's obvious that a person cannot possess both such statuses at the same time. On the other hand, some statuses are not mutually exclusive, but rather, contextual. These "contextual" statuses are much more fluid. One of the identities can be used in some settings, while another may be used in other settings where the former status is unfavorable, undesirable, or unnecessary.

Stephen Colbert used the phrase in a taped interview with Harvard students in December 2006, briefly elaborating that all jokes contain status shifts [1]. Stephen Colbert is a satirical television pundit who plays the character of a conservative, while his personal views contradict the character's.

This is called situational negotiation of social identity; when ethnic identity is flexible and situational, it can become an achieved status. Shifting ethnic affiliations is when an ethnic group may move through levels of culture as they negotiate their identities. Ascribed status is associated with a position in the social–political hierarchy in many societies. Minority groups with inferior power and less secure access to resources are subordinate to majority groups. Ethnic groups help create races; in turn, discrimination against such a group is called racism.