Status and roles are embedded in the context of society, and all societies define individual roles a bit differently; however, some roles bridge all cultures. In this way, they are almost archetypes of human behavior.
The first is child, a low status position; the next, youth, also low status. In adulthood, the age when one is an "adult" through coming-of-age ceremony, or in modern America the end of schooling brings the status of adulthood. In adulthood, people play roles of wife, husband, father, mother, boss, worker, outcast and community leader—among others. Grandmother and grandfather are also a status and in some cultures these words are used even for older people who have no grandchildren.
Adults who do not adopt a role within the status quo fall into the general category of outcast, a person who has voluntarily or by happenstance dropped out of society. Prior to adulthood, this role is permeable, but once an age is reached in which the individual becomes a contributing member to society, they are expected to take on a specific status.
Low status individuals among men are those who are outcasts, and non-workers. Low status women are the same; however, to be unmarried has a significant impact on a woman's status, and by the same token being childless still carries a somewhat lower status for women.
Those with "high status" roles—especially multiple high-status roles, such as husband, father, community leader—receive more respect and are usually more financially secure. They are able to attract other "high status" partners.
Status can shift with misfortune, however—such as alcoholism, divorce, financial ruin, or mental illness. These events can significantly change opportunities for individuals.
Outcasts are the lowest status in society—this includes criminals, the homeless, and sometimes the unemployed. Their ability to interact and form relationships with high status people is severely compromised.