Chapter

Ranking Devices: The Socio-Materiality of Ratings

Neil Pollock

in Materiality and Organizing

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199664054
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745423 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664054.003.0005
Ranking Devices: The Socio-Materiality of Ratings

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Despite the growing importance of formal rankings within the economy, we still have relatively little understanding of the materiality of rankings. By this it is meant the various “devices” that go into their generation and communication. Once materiality is put at the center of the lens, it brings into focus how devices can come to shape ranking as well as the domain these rankings report on. To demonstrate this, the chapter takes an example from within the information technology arena of a visual ranking device. The chapter shows how this is more than a simple vehicle for the communication of rankings but that its properties and affordances can have a constitutive relationship to modes of behavior and practice within this domain. The chapter draws on observations and interviews carried out over several years with those who produce a visual ranking device called the “magic quadrant.”

Keywords: rankings; markets; devices; affordance; magic quadrant

Chapter.  9189 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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