Michael Sauder “On Transparency”

June 19, 2008

Michael Sauder, who’s guestblogging at orgtheory.net, is an expert on rankings and self-fulfilling prophecies. He wrote Rankings and Reactivity: How Public Measures Recreate Social Worlds with Wendy Espeland, published here. (Gated)

He has just posted a thoughtful piece on transparency, looking at the ability of rankings to distort organizational activity that they are purported to measure.

So, not only is the apparent transparency created by these measures actually a distortion, but this distortion also comes to play an important role in defining the field. This is very removed from simply gaining a view into organizational activity.

Go take a look. Leave him a kind and helpful comment.

I wonder how different are his perspective,  that of SSF thinkers, and that of Anthony Giddens, who uses the term “double hermeneutics” to explain the same phenomenon.


4 Responses to “Michael Sauder “On Transparency””

  1. typewritten Says:

    There is a book forthcoming here on that topic which includes a couple of contributions from some relatively reputable “SSF thinkers”.

  2. marthapoon Says:

    It has generally struck me that the difference between STS and Espelund and Sauder’s approach to quantification are profound. They tend to critique techniques precisely for their distorting effects. They are much less interested in exploring the generative or performative effects of quantification techniques in generating genuinely new forms of sociality. Even when they talk about what ranking ‘do’ or about ‘reactivity’, their work is deeply founded on a classic sociology of errors, to use Bloor’s term. It is furthermore not systems / network oriented. There is often a very direct cognitive relationship between the metric (object) and the people perceiving and reacting to it (subjects) in the stories they tell. Theirs is not a story of information infrastructure or of complex technical organization that remake agencies, so much as it is about representation – peception – reaction in which the ability of the human to respond to the technical sysetm is assumed rather than an conferred as a very properties of the system itself… (I know this sounds a bit blah blah, but I really mean what I’m writing!)

  3. marthapoon Says:

    i love it. sounds like a new word for the urban dictionary.

    blahvo: an appreciative exclamation uttered to commend a speaker for the content you detect despite their roundabout prose…

    blahno: the opposite of blahvo. when you disagree with the roundabout prose. usually uttered with rolling eyes…

    blahduh: when the speaker is going on and on stating the obvious. also uttered with rolling eyes…

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