Arcane and Effective, but How? On the Power of Lists, List Contests and Data Controversies in the Formation of Transnational Governance Spaces

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List making is a non-narrative social practice, whose significance for our ways of organizing the world today is generally underestimated. Lists come about in multiple ways, take on a variety of forms and are used differently relative to space and time. They are developed to coordinate and control reality, as well as to represent it, making certain features of reality visible or invisible, and to consolidate or criticize prevailing representations. This paper the creation, circulation and consumption of rankings, blacklists and ratings used by state and civil society actors in contemporary transnational governance domains. Researchers exploring contemporary organizational settings tend to understand lists mainly as top-down disciplinary technologies. The paper problematizes that view by looking into recent literatures on stat-activism and data-activism and illuminates how lists become entangled in wider struggles for power, truth and hegemony. To illustrate, the paper draws on material on the use of blacklists and rankings in the contemporary governance of tax havens, as well as on the emergence of the Chinese Social Credit System which provides public performance scores for citizens and companies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event59th ISA Annual Convention: International Studies Association Conference 2018 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 4 Apr 20187 Apr 2018
Conference number: 59


Conference59th ISA Annual Convention
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Internet address

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