Medicine & USMLE

Master Status

Status and Social Stratification
  1. Ascribed Status & Caste System
  2. Achieved Status & Class System
  3. Master Status


A master status is an individual’s most important status, which dominates their other statuses (including Ascribed Statuses and Achieved Statuses). In other words, master status is the social position with the most importance in a person’s social identity, often shaping a person's entire life.

Key Points


An ex-convict may have multiple assigned statuses (American, white ethnicity) or achieved statuses (works as a cashier), but her primary identifying status, or her master status, remains that as an ex-convict. This status dominates in the formation of her social identity.