Declare an enum attribute where the values map to integers in the database, but can be queried by name. Example:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  enum status: [ :admin, :user, :banned ]
end

 For migration, write 

  def up
    create_table :authorities do |t|
      t.string 'value', :default => '', :null => false
      t.integer :status
    end
  end