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Social status matters for outcomes that are of central importance to sociology. Processes of power, influence, stratification, and inequality all have status as a key mechanism in their enactment. In this dissertation I investigate informal status hierarchies from a relational perspective, showing that such an approach yields social structures with complicated topology. Using three different empirical cases, I argue that this relational approach leads to a richer understanding of the establishment and consequences of social status. The first two cases use statistical analysis of natural conversations to impute status relations and status hierarchies. Using transcripts from President Kennedy's ExComm meetings during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, I show not only that status differences inform key dynamics in the decision-making process, but that traditional lines of social class helped define those status differences among the committee members. I use similar methods to analyze the status structures among a sub-community on the discussion website Reddit. The online group, organized around the Gamergate controversy in 2014 and still active today, is characterized by an active, often confrontational conversational style. I show that a strong status hierarchy exists among the core participants in this community, and that lines of influence through this hierarchy help determine the topics of discussion. The final empirical setting I use to investigate status uses Add Health, a nationally representative survey of adolescents in the United States. I argue that the rigid status hierarchies that exist among adolescents are defined along two contrasting dimensions, and that both dimensions are needed to understand the role of identity, class, and individual behavior in status differentiation. By using these three, disparate cases, I highlight the benefits, both theoretical and empirical, of viewing status through a relational and topological lens.


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