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Vasiliki Kantzara

Subject Sociology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Prestige originates from Latin and it initially meant conjuror's tricks, marking in this way its illusory but mostly symbolic nature in human societies. In social sciences the notion prestige denotes symbolic value expressed as a quality of honor and esteem that individuals and social groups may attain on the basis of desirable traits and achievement. Individuals and groups who enjoy high prestige are usually respected, esteemed, admired, and/or deferred to. Prestige is related to status, and both concepts denote processes and outcome of social evaluation that define standing in society. As a social phenomenon prestige characterizes social relations positioning individuals on a symbolic scale of social worth, which in turn forms inter alia the basis of social hierarchy. Research and theorizing burgeoned after World War II and focused on diverse aspects of the phenomenon described by prestige. Defining prestige means attempting to define a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. In very general terms, the relevant research falls into two categories: positivistic and interpretive. The former paradigm includes studies on defining mainly prestige of occupations ( Coxon & Jones 1978 ). The latter strand of research is more diffuse and treats prestige as honor (in anthropology) and as respect and esteem (in sociology). These concepts denote standing, which could be studied in professions ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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