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Worlds of Rankings

Leopold Ringel, Wendy Nelson Espeland, Michael Sauder & Tobias Werron (2021)

In: Ringel, Leopold/Espeland, Wendy Nelson/Sauder, Michael/Werron, Tobias (eds.), Research in the Sociology of Organizations 74: Worlds of Rankings. Bingley: Emerald


Abstract. Rankings have become a popular topic in the social sciences over the past two decades. Adding to these debates, the present volume assembles studies that explore a variety of empirical settings, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging that there are multiple “Worlds of Rankings.” To this end, the first part of the chapter addresses the implications of two modes of criticism that characterize much of the scholarly work on rankings and summarizes extant conceptual debates. Taking stock of what we know, the second part distinguishes three areas of empirical research. The first area concerns the activities of those who produce rankings, such as the collection of data or different business strategies. Studies in the second area focus on inter-organizational, field-level, or discursive phenomena, particularly how rankings are received, interpreted, and institutionalized. The third area covers the manifold effects that research has unveiled, ranging from the diffusion of practices and changes in organizational identities to emotional distress. Taken together, the contributions to this volume expand our knowledge in all three areas, inviting new debates and suggesting pathways forward.

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