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  • Cited by 8
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Kwan, Alan Shiu Cheung 2016. Hierarchy, status and international society: China and the steppe nomads. European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 22, Issue. 2, p. 362.

    Petrova, Margarita H. 2016. Rhetorical Entrapment and Normative Enticement: How the United Kingdom Turned From Spoiler Into Champion of the Cluster Munition Ban. International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 60, Issue. 3, p. 387.

    Zala, Benjamin 2017. Polarity Analysis and Collective Perceptions of Power: The Need for a New Approach. Journal of Global Security Studies, Vol. 2, Issue. 1, p. 2.

    Ward, Steven Michael 2017. Lost in Translation: Social Identity Theory and the Study of Status in World Politics. International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 61, Issue. 4, p. 821.

    Røren, Pål and Beaumont, Paul 2018. Grading greatness: evaluating the status performance of the BRICS. Third World Quarterly, p. 1.

    Pedersen, Rasmus Brun 2018. Bandwagon for Status: Changing Patterns in the Nordic States Status-seeking Strategies?. International Peacekeeping, Vol. 25, Issue. 2, p. 217.

    Krickovic, Andrej and Weber, Yuval 2018. What Can Russia Teach Us about Change? Status-Seeking as a Catalyst for Transformation in International Politics. International Studies Review, Vol. 20, Issue. 2, p. 292.

    Duque, Marina G 2018. Recognizing International Status: A Relational Approach. International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 62, Issue. 3, p. 577.

  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

4 - Status Is Cultural: Durkheimian Poles and Weberian Russians Seek Great-Power Status


Like its etymological twin − the state, status emerges within a specific cultural context or, to better capture the importance of relations between polities, a civilizational context. According to Durkheim and Mauss, “[a] civilization constitutes a kind of moral milieu encompassing a certain number of nations, each national culture being only a particular form of the whole.” Status-seeking between any groups of polities takes place in a specific social context. What Durkheim and Mauss had in mind was Christendom.

The historical fact that the state system grew out of Christendom and a Christian legal code (first ius gentium, then ius inter gentes) has repercussions not only for those left status-less, but also for how status was conferred within the system. Conflict over status played itself out as a discussion of which king was closest to God. Earthly powers were ordered in a hierarchy of descending closeness to God, with France on top, then other Christian rulers, then non-Christian rulers (and, we may add, people who were seen to be without rulers altogether). This hierarchical order carried over into early modernity and beyond, most recently as a “standard of civilization.”

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