Course Detail


Politics of Information


Ratings, rankings and certifications have become a ubiquitous form of power in American society, and particularly in the health and environmental fields (e.g. ENERGY STAR, USDA Organic). Why have they become so common, and who is behind them? How trustworthy and valid are they as metrics, and how effective and usable are they as a type of political strategy and a mechanism of social action? Do they complement or undermine regulatory approaches to policy issues? This course explores these questions and investigates this hotly-contested phenomenon of "information-based governance." The course uses a range of social science concepts to analyze assessments of US hospitals, doctors, consumer appliances, food items, and other products by organizations such as US News and World Report, USDA, and the EPA. The role of federal agencies and interest groups in developing, framing and utilizing these assessments is explored extensively.

Satisfies the Social-Scientific Thought distribution requirement.
Satisfies a major requirement and American Politics sub-field requirement in Political Science.
Satisfies a major, interdisciplinary minor and social science track requirement in Environmental Studies.