Academic media ranking and the configurations of values in higher education: a sociotechnical history of a co-production in France between the media, state and higher education (1976–1989)
Before the 2000s and the buzz surrounding global rankings, many countries witnessed the emergence and development, starting in the 1970s, of academic media rankings produced primarily by press organisations. This domestic, media-based production, despite the relative lack of attention paid by the social sciences, has been progressively integrated into the functioning of higher education institutions. Examining the emergence and production of academic media rankings in two French magazines between 1976 and 1989, this paper analyses how the media has become a legitimate producer of academic rankings. A micro, sociotechnical history of this production, inspired by the theory of academic capitalism, by communication and media studies and by valuation studies, highlights three principal ideas: First, the production of academic media rankings in France relies on the ability of media organisations to involve the state and the academic institutions themselves. Second, a multidimensional market is instituted by the production of academic media rankings. Third, the concept of “configuration of values” is proposed, with three configurations identified: the configuration of value of opinion, the configuration of value of productivity and the configuration of value of activity.