Different societies have awarded different status to different groups: hunters, fighters, acient families, priests, knights, fecund women. Increasingly, since 1776, status in the West has been awarded in relation to financial achievement… high status is thought by many (but freely admitted by few) to be one of the finest of earthly goods.
Status anxiety: A worry so pernicious as to be capable of ruining extended stretches of our lives, that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society and that we may as a result be stripped of dignity and respect...
If our position on the ladder is a matter of such concern, it is because our self-conception is so dependent upon what others make of us… we rely on signs of respect from the world to feel tolerable to ourselves.
Alain de Botton