Social Hierarchy, Social Status and Status Consumption in Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Psychology Derek D. Rucker, Mike I. Norton, Cait P. Lamberton (Eds.), Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
Social hierarchy is a fundamental feature of most existing societies and organizations (Sidanius and Prato 1999). Common to any hierarchical structure is the adoption of a ranking system, in which every individual occupies a specific position, or social status relative to others. Although hierarchical ordering is a multifaceted construct (Weber 1922/1978 ), it typically stems from one or several attributes (e.g., race, gender, income, education, ancestry, occupation) that become status markers in social groups. This ordering simultaneously transforms every member into a sender and a recipient of status signals, and guides individuals’ actions vis-à-vis these signals. Because of their profound effects on individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behaviors as well as group dynamics, status and stratification processes have received a lot of interest in key areas of social sciences such as sociology (e.g., Joseph and Hamit 2006; Podolny 1993; 2005; Ridgeway et al., 2009), psychology (e.g., Fiske 2010; Kraus et al. 2012; Magee and Galinsky 2008), economics (e.g., Frank 2007), and even health care and epidemiology (e.g., Bobak et al. 1998; Marmot 2004).