MA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science


Adam Harmes


This literature review provides a comparative analysis of the four main approaches within the status paradigm (social-psychological, rationalist, constructivist, and social immobility) to determine their respective strengths, limitations, explanatory power, and scope conditions. While there are various elements of ‘status’ that the approaches converge upon, they diverge significantly in their understanding of the motivations and strategies adopted by status-seeking states, how status is a form of power that translates into deference, and whether status-based analyses can be applied beyond rising and established great powers. The review provides five case studies (China, Norway, United States, the UNSC, and Russia) to demonstrate not only whether the strategies advocated by the approaches can accurately explain the status-seeking behaviour of these states, but also to determine if the approach is generalizable beyond its stated scope. Ultimately, it argues that to develop the strongest explanation for status-seeking behaviour, it is necessary to build synthetic accounts that combine insights from multiple approaches. To demonstrate the utility of synthetic explanations, the review provides an argument in favour of synthesizing the social psychological and status immobility approaches.