The Discursive Power of International Rankings and Turkey

Başkavak Y.

13th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Athens, Greece, 29 August - 01 September 2017, pp.443

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Athens
  • Country: Greece
  • Page Numbers: pp.443
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The proliferation of global rankings, which measure the performance of states in various areas of politics, constitute a significant part of the architecture of global governance. The increasing popularity of these rankings gives them both a discursive power and a disciplinary function. By “discursive power”, I refer to their role in defining the “normative horizons” of politics. They do not just measure or monitor, but they also define the ideal, the good, the legitimate and the acceptable. By providing benchmarks and describing “best practices”, they constitute an integral part in the processes of international diffusion of ideas, institutions or policies. To the extent that they practically influence the decisions and actions of states or international bodies, moreover, these indexes also execute a disciplinary function, compelling their targets to comply with the norms they propagate. These functions are realised, however, in the way they are received and reacted upon by the states and publics they measure. This paper analyzes this interactive dimension in the case of Turkey, through the examples of credit ratings, the OECD's PISA scores and the freedom of the press rankings, covering three areas of economics, education and civil liberties.