Would you have more respect for a person who is born wealthy or a person who becomes wealthy through hard work?Address the differences associated with ascribed and achieved statuses in your answer.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Here in the United States, ascribed status is very much less honored than achieved status.  We are a country that is based on the idea that a person who is born to a position of low ascribed status can rise to have a tremendous amount of achieved status.  In addition, we tend to be somewhat suspicious of ascribed status because it smacks of aristocracy and the sort of feudal systems that used to exist in Europe.

Therefore, I (like the vast majority of Americans) would certainly have more respect for a person who becomes wealthy through hard work.

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Even though most people have an inherent respect for people who become wealthy through hard work, and it is easy to believe that people who are born wealthy somehow are not as worthy of respect as those who have earned wealth, such a stance belies a basic fact of life: just as we respect those who are born poor, so should we respect those who are born rich--until they give us a reason to withdraw our respect.  All of us are, in a sense, "accidents of birth," that is, none of us has any control over the class into which we are born.

As the prior editor noted, Americans tend to respect those who achieve wealth through hard work, but that is a cultural phenomenon that is not based on a person's inherent right to our respect.  In other words, many people who have achieved wealth through hard work are not necessarily worthy of anyone's respect just because they have worked hard.  How they live their lives is far more important than how they became wealthy.

Unfortunately, we tend, as a people, to ascribe some worth to those who achieve wealth and to look upon those who are born wealthy with some skepticism, but that is simply an illogical cultural bias that we live with and has nothing to do with anyone's inherent value.

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