Reviewing the major stratification theories that involve prestige as a concept, this chapter suggests that these theories differ in that they base prestige either on achievement, esteem, honor, or charisma. None of these theories is able to solve the problem of how theoretically to merge the idea of social closure with that of a hierarchy of positions. Empirically, research on prestige and prestige measurement has for some time been confronted with findings that demonstrate the inferior role of prestige in status attainment models. Dissensus in prestige judgments, regarding prestige of women in particular, is another recent concern. While the “dominant view” of prestige measurement, arguing for prestige consensus in society, is defended, emphasis is placed on studies that detect systematic interindividual variation of prestige judgments. The review concludes that empirically, prestige research has diversified and deals now with two different concept of prestige, one linked to the idea of a social hierarchy and the other to that of socially closed groups. A reconciliation of both views is wanting.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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