Ordinal Citizenship

Hosted by the Department of Sociology and British Journal of Sociology

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building


Professor Marion Fourcade

Professor Marion Fourcade


Professor Nigel Dodd

Join us for the annual British Journal of Sociology Lecture.

The expansion of social citizenship in the 20th century mitigated the brute effects of economic inequality in people’s lives. The institutionalization of universal rights and entitlement programs recognised that access to a “civilized” life should not depend on wealth only. Economic and social difference did not disappear—far from it—but it could now legitimate itself through the opportunities offered by, among others, the educational system. The new rights also created new social divisions, however, separating citizens according to their ability to do well through them. In this lecture, Professor Fourcade will explore how these twin dynamics of inclusion and stratification play out in the 21st century. As digital technologies have enabled a broadening of economic and social incorporation, the possibilities for classifying, sorting, slotting and scaling people have also grown and diversified. New ways of measuring and demonstrating merit have sprung up, some better accepted than others. Institutions, both market and state, find themselves compelled to build up and exploit this efficient, proliferating, fine-grained knowledge in order to manage individual claims on resources and opportunities. This process, she argues, creates new social demands for self-care and individual fitness that possibly erode the universal and solidaristic basis upon which the expansion of citizenship historically thrived.

Marion Fourcade is Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her PhD from Harvard University (2000) and taught at New York University and Princeton University before joining the Berkeley sociology department in 2003. A comparative sociologist by training and taste, she is interested in variations in economic and political knowledge and practice across nations.

Her first book, Economists and Societies, explored the distinctive character of the discipline and profession of economics in three countries. A second book, The Ordinal Society (with Kieran Healy), is under contract. This book investigates new forms of social stratification and morality in the digital economy. Other recent research focuses on the valuation of nature in comparative perspective; the moral regulation of states; the comparative study of political organization (with Evan Schofer and Brian Lande); the microsociology of courtroom exchanges (with Roi Livne); the sociology of economics, with Etienne Ollion and Yann Algan, and with Rakesh Khurana; the politics of wine classifications in France and the United States (with Rebecca Elliott and Olivier Jacquet). A final book-length project, Measure for Measure: Social Ontologies of Classification, will examine the cultural and institutional logic of what we may call "national classificatory styles" across a range of empirical domains. Fourcade is also an Associate Fellow of the Max Planck-Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies (Maxpo), and a past President of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (2016).

The Department of Sociology (@LSEsociology) seek to produce sociology that is public-facing, fully engaged with London as a global city, and with major contemporary debates in the intersection between economy, politics and society – with issues such as financialisation, inequality, migration, urban ecology, and climate change.

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A podcast of this event is available to download from Ordinal Citizenship.

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