I tend to construe SOC - in non-imperial Terran societies - as a measure of the character's influence and connections.
I use SOC in a very similar way, a kind of mix of reputation and of status. A character with a high SOC has more influence and more access to resources than a character with a low SOC. However, a high SOC is not inherited, it has to be earned, and depending on the activities and the success or failure of the character his SOC can increase or decrease. For example, in my Eshura Colony setting (using These Stars Are Ours! as background universe) a character whose activities help to improve the settlers' lives will increase his SOC, and with a sufficiently high SOC he may one day be voted into a leadership position, while a character whose activities are contrary to the interests of the settlers will decrease his SOC, and with a really low SOC may become an outcast, or may even be forced into exile.