Research Seminar

Peter Edlund: Constructing an Arbiter of Status: A Study of the European Research Council's Emergence in the Field of Science

Date: 8 May 2019
Time: 10:00-12:00

Peter Edlund, Researcher at the Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University.


In my presentation, I will develop a theoretical account that centers on how certain actors are constructed into third-party arbiters of status. Such arbiters are important because they mediate the triadic relations in which status is created, assessing and suggesting certain candidates as particularly worthy of deference from audiences.

While previous literature has provided us with compelling insights into the pervasive authority of established status arbiters, much less attention has been paid to the ways in which these arbiters reach their authoritative positions. I seek to build new knowledge on the processes through which third-party status arbiters are constructed by exploring how the European Research Council (ERC) was transformed into an authority in science. In a short period of time, the ERC’s evaluations of funding applications and subsequent allocations of research resources came to be approached as a benchmark of scientific quality, which scientists, departments, universities, and countries anxiously compared their research performance against. I suggest that these evaluations and allocations soon became more than instances in which quality was assessed and resources were distributed, thus turning into potent bases for status creation as well.

My findings contribute to previous literature by demonstrating how arbiters are constructed through mutually reinforcing relations in which the status-creating potential of evaluations is continuously framed and validated. My findings also contribute by showing how the creation of status over time requires constant maintenance efforts to sustain the agreement between arbiters and audiences in terms of candidates that are worthy of deference.

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