"Status" is a key concept in the understanding of culture's operation. As noted earlier, a status is taken to be a collection of three distinguishable sorts of shared understandings (i.e., cultural elements). The sort concerning the distinguishing characteristics of category members is called "identifying understandings." The understandings about how category members are expected to act and how they expect others to act toward them in their capacity as category members are called "expectations," and it is important to note that these may concern quite specific behaviors (e.g., mothers cook food at mealtimes) as well as very broad ones (e.g., mothers are concerned with the welfare of their sons and daughters and act accordingly).
A final sort of status component can be called "salience understandings." These concern which status or statuses (vis-à-vis others) properly serve as a guide for behavior in particular situations and, when more than one status is involved, which ones are appropriate with what relative importance in guiding behavior.
It is important that "status" refers to nothing but a complex of cultural elements. As will be seen, it is through statuses that culture's constituent parts come to bear on the problems and opportunities of life (personal as well as social) of those who share the parts. Later, it will be shown that despite their purely cultural contents, statuses have an effect on behavior separate from that of the culture that constitutes them.