Ranking the World: Globalising Status Competition in International Society

14 February 2019, 16:00 - 18:00

CRASSH Meeting Room, Alison Richard Building, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

All are invited to join us for this event in the 'cum panis' seminar series, hosted by gloknos at CRASSH. The 'cum panis' seminars are a space to share work currently in progress and break bread (or cake!) with new intellectual companions.

In this session, Paul Beaumont (NMBU - The Norwegian University of Life Sciences, currently visiting POLIS, University of Cambridge) joins us to outline his current research 


Since the 1990s the number organizations that rank countries according to performance in social indicators has burgeoned. Yet, the political effects of rankings are poorly understood. To date, most research tends to investigate their methodological veracity rather than how to understand their influence on the social world. Addressing this lacuna, this article foregrounds the political consequences of these rankings by theorizing how presenting knowledge in rankings can engender a peculiar type of “status shock” that provides the discursive resources to legitimize policy reform. It is argued that rankings may operate as a status recognition conduit, whereby states grant it authority to allocate status in given policy fields. Problematizing status among peers in a given social hierarchy, rankings can, under some circumstances, set in motion a continuous process of status competition among the ranked. By way of illustration, the paper uses Norway’s response to the PISA education ranking to explore the mechanism through which these technologies affect their target population. The case reveals that the publication of PISA rankings in Norway induced a “status shock”, necessary to legitimate reforms and thus suggests further research is necessary to explicating when, why, and how global rankings instigate status concerns (or not).


This event is free to attend, but in order to receive the advance reading material for this session please email to confirm your attendance. 

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gloknos is initially funded for 5 years by the European Research Council through a Consolidator Grant awarded to Dr Inanna Hamati-Ataya for her project ARTEFACT (2017-2022). ARTEFACT is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (ERC grant agreement no. 724451). For information about gloknos or ARTEFACT please contact the administrator in the first instance.

Cum Panis Seminars 2018/19 6 November 2018

Peter Marcus Kristensen (University of Copenhagen) – States of Emergence, States of Knowledge: On International Relations Theorising in Rising Powers

28 January 2019

Ingrid Paoletti (Politecnico di Milano) – Intangible Material Culture: Technical Knowledge Transfer in Architecture 

14 February 2019

Paul Beaumont (NMBU - The Norwegian University of Life Sciences) – Ranking the World: Globalising Status Competition in International Society

14 May 2019

Maria Birnbaum (University of Oslo) – The Power of Agnosis and the Politics of the Unknown

30 May 2019

Arlene B Tickner (Universidad del Rosario) – Becoming Worldly: Relationality as Methodology

4 June 2019

Thomas Lindner (Max-Planck Institute for Human Development) – Agriculture and Anti-Imperialism: The transnational career of Pandurang Khankhoje 

10 June 2019

Sebastian Porsdam Mann (University of Copenhagen) – Consent, Prosent and Biomedical Data in the Era of Blockchain

20 June 2019

Julia L Cassaniti – The Burning Issue: Hazy Relations and the Construction of Knowledge in the Land Management Fires of Southeast Asia