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The visualization of ranking information in global public policy is moving away from traditional ‘league table’ formats and towards dashboards and interactive data displays. This paper explores the rhetoric underpinning the visualization of ranking information in such interactive formats, the purpose of which is to encourage country participation in reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The paper unpacks the strategies that the visualization experts adopt in the measurement of global poverty and wellbeing, focusing on a variety of interactive ranking visualizations produced by the OECD, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. Building on visual and discourse analysis, the study details how the politically and ethically sensitive nature of global public policy, coupled with the pressures for ‘decolonizing’ development, influence how rankings are visualized. The study makes two contributions to the literature on rankings. First, it details the move away from league table formats towards multivocal interactive layouts that seek to mitigate the competitive and potentially dysfunctional pressures of the display of ‘winners and losers’. Second, it theorizes ranking visualizations in global public policy as ‘alignment devices’ that entice country buy-in and seek to align actors around common global agendas.
|Title of host publication||Research in the Sociology of Organizations|
|Subtitle of host publication||World of Rankings|
|Editors||Leopold Ringel, Wendy Espeland, Michael Sauder, Tobias Werron|
|Place of Publication||Bingley|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Jul 2021|
|Name||Research in the Sociology of Organizations|
- interactive visualization
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- naming and shaming
- performance measurement
- poverty measurement
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