I think this is a great model for understanding status -- especially the transactional nature of it.
I hope the authors (or some other LWers) will elaborate on the different kinds of status transactions. It seems to me that status can be traded off for various other benefits -- money, sex, knowledge, favors. For example, conspicuous consumption is a way of exchanging money for status. Endorsements (think B-list celebrities) are a way of exchanging status for money. Powertalk is the art of trading status for knowledge and vice versa. Similarly, seduction hints at a sex/status transaction. Of course, none of these are simple, zero-sum, X for Y exchanges, but they all have a transactional quality to them.
The authors' use of the phrase "power conversion" is great, although I think "energy conversion" would make a good metaphor here as well. Just as it's possible to convert kinetic energy into potential energy and vice versa, or electrical energy into light or heat, it's possible to convert status among its different forms, and also into other forms of social or biological value. A full treatment of this would be fascinating.