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the gaining of social position or social status as the outcome of personal effort in open competition with others, e.g. in formal examinations or competition in a market. As such, achievement is contrasted with ascription and ASCRIBED STATUS. See also PATTERN VARIABLES.

While achievement in its widest sense can be seen as a particular feature of modern, ‘open-class‘ society (see SOCIAL MOBILITY) (e.g. ‘careers open to talents’), its opposite, ascription (e.g. inheriting one'S father’s job), is a feature especially of traditional class-divided societies. However, both modes of allocation of social position and social status will usually exist in any society. One reason for this is that some positions (e.g. historically, especially GENDER ROLES) are mainly ascribed, while other positions, e.g. where skills or talents required by the society are in short supply, tend to be subject to open competition. Another reason is that there are likely to be ascriptive elements underlying achieved status (e.g. the effects of advantages of family background underlying educational achievement). See also FUNCTIONALIST THEORY OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, MERITOCRACY.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in classic literature ?
Four times he stopped, and as many times did his laughter break out afresh with the same violence as at first, whereat Don Quixote grew furious, above all when he heard him say mockingly, "Thou must know, friend Sancho, that of Heaven's will I was born in this our iron age to revive in it the golden or age of gold; I am he for whom are reserved perils, mighty achievements, valiant deeds;" and here he went on repeating the words that Don Quixote uttered the first time they heard the awful strokes.
"Look here, my lively gentleman, if these, instead of being fulling hammers, had been some perilous adventure, have I not, think you, shown the courage required for the attempt and achievement? Am I, perchance, being, as I am, a gentleman, bound to know and distinguish sounds and tell whether they come from fulling mills or not; and that, when perhaps, as is the case, I have never in my life seen any as you have, low boor as you are, that have been born and bred among them?
His fat-soiled vegetable-garden in the nook of hills that failed of its best was a problem of engrossing importance, and when he had solved it by putting in drain-tile, the joy of the achievement was ever with him.
Ferguson came over to celebrate the housewarming that followed the achievement of the great stone fireplace.
In Ferguson's eyes was actually a suspicious moisture while the woman pressed even more closely against the man whose achievement it was.
She had transmuted Western culture and achievement into terms that were intelligible to the Chinese understanding.
Two further sentences of Lowell well summarize his whole general achievement:
Still grander, to be sure, by the nature of the two forms, was the Elizabethan achievement in the drama, which we shall consider in the next chapter; but the lyrics have the advantage in sheer delightfulness and, of course, in rapid and direct appeal.
He felt that this was rousing in his soul a feeling of anger destructive of his peace of mind and of all the good of his achievement. He believed that for Anna herself it would be better to break off all relations with Vronsky; but if they all thought this out of the question, he was even ready to allow these relations to be renewed, so long as the children were not disgraced, and he was not deprived of them nor forced to change his position.
QBWA Takreem Awards aim to recognise and celebrate Qatari women who contribute to Qatar's economy and society through their significant achievements in different fields.
4 (BNA): President of the Bahrain Authority for Antiquities and Culture (BACA) Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa has been granted the annual Arab Women Award for 2015 for her achievements in culture and education.
Previous research has shown that the educational expectations of adolescents are correlated with their academic achievements (Bui, 2007; Sanders, Field, & Diego, 2001).

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