I have been doing an elementary reading on political sociology and found the concept Social status & Social distance more interesting because I then realized that we encounter it on a daily basis without knowledge.
Social status is the starter and Social Distance shall follow as a consequence. Primitive man was never a victim of this non-sense and he led a satisfied life. But then that alone will not be a strong reason to give up the feeling of Social Status. On a positive note if you are a soldier and serving your motherland, you should be proud about that and Social Status which ensues as a result is reasonable and indeed legitimate. The only danger is if you carry the baggage of Social Status all the time and/or your heightened obsession towards this, will only harden your ego and is not good for your mental & physical health. Let me tell you how and why.
The Hindu scriptures quote that Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada , matsarya which in English translates to Lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride(vanity,ego) and jealousy are the six enemies of man. Man is virtually a prisoner of these six evils which does not allow him to realize the god within or elsewhere. These six evils act like layers which obstructs men to see and experience what is real. This teaching is at the core of Hindu philosophical thought.
The most dangerous of these six is ego (Ahankar-Hindi/Sanskrit) Ahambavamu-Telegu, Ahambavam – Tamil. And Man’s excessive consciousness of Social Status nurtures this feeling of Ego which is detrimental to his mental peace. With Ego and pride your mind will always be agitated. A disturbed and agitated mind causes severe damage to your physical health too, so it is in your own interest to shun it.
Let’s see how this pans out in real time. For Political sociologists social status maintains some kind of order in society which is positive and is actually required, this is mostly associated with an official position sometimes but mostly it has got something to do with possession of material wealth. If you are a politician your Social Status is different from the ordinary citizenry. And if you are an Ambani like that means you have a lot of money so your social status is different from the one who is a popper.
In the ancient days we have had this caste system through which order was ensured in society, this is a typical example of Social Status, which is primarily associated with the occupation one is engaged in to. Though in the current days there is no utility of caste system it is upheld by some zealots. This is actually a blot on Hinduism itself.
The debate of haves and have-nots: It is important to note that in a society where income inequality is rampant, the have-nots running behind material wealth and the haves being indifferent is quite common. It is a no-brainer that men who possess enormous amount of wealth also maintain status and influence in every arena. This mere possession of wealth and status forces him to maintain a social distance with those who do not have it.
So you maintain a marked distance with your relatives because you are afraid that they might ask you for a material help. Does this not sound like a prejudice? And you want have a relationship with someone who has an equal status (Social status) i.e., someone who has material wealth of your level or even more.
As you move on you develop some kind of profound ego, which makes you think that you have all the power at your disposal and you can do anything you want. This is obviously true. You can literally do anything with money starting from turning a man to woman and woman to man to buying judgments in courts. It shall be noted that many dalal street traders too were in that mental makeup but committed suicide in the verge of 2008 financial crisis. Their Social Status, distance and ego etc could not save their life.
The nature of wealth accumulation is such that you would naturally create a class of stooge, which will agree to anything you say there by catering to your ego which further degenerates to false ego. You end up creating false class consciousness i.e., you call all of them who does not have enough wealth to match your level either second or third class, which is absolutely not needed apart from genuine governmental purposes i.e., taxing individuals for example.
During my childhood I have encountered a strange mindset of my cousin, she would call me a third class because as a kid of say 10 years old I would enjoy blowing soap bubbles. I never knew that if you blew soap bubbles you are a third class. For a very long time I thought about what could be a potential reason for this peculiar behavior, why would she call me a third class?
I realized that as far as I see the only difference was that of a classic case of haves and have-nots. She too was a kid of tender age; somehow her family socialization has taught her that all have-nots are either second or third class. That is a disturbing behavior. This false pride sustains your ego. And you tend to think you get some kind of superior plane because of your financial status, which is rubbish. Because a financially inferior person could be superior in other facets of life.
So it is not too late. If you are catering to your ego through your false pride which rests on the premise of possession of money or because of your official position, ie., say you are an employee of governmental organization or you are an employee of an IT company or you are simply living abroad after some brief education etc., you do not gain some kind of imaginary first class status. If you think you are in that class then you are a victim of your ego and this will not allow you to become a perfect human being. So stay there at your own risk.