Theory: Rankings as Policy Instruments

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Global Higher Education book series (PSGHE)


Rankings are influential policy instruments, creating calculable social objects or “facts” that become governable. At present, different aspects of states’ knowledge production are being governed through external assessments and comparisons. Building on new institutionalism, Foucauldian governmentality, and political sociology, we provide a theoretical framework for understanding the mechanisms of influence behind the numerical assessments that helps to explain why rankings steer the policies of sovereign states. We also provide tools for understanding the dynamics of field development around the transnational production of numerical knowledge.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Ministry for Foreign Affairs of FinlandHelsinkiFinland

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