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The Performance Complex – Competition and Competitions in Social Life - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Performance Complex: Competition and Competitions in Social Life

David Stark


What’s valuable? Market competition provides one kind of answer. Competitions offer another. On one side, competition is an ongoing and seemingly endless process of pricings; on the other, competitions are discrete and bounded in time and location, with entry rules, judges, scores, and prizes. This book examines what happens when ever more activities in domains of everyday life are evaluated and experienced in terms of performance metrics. Unlike organized competitions, such systems are ceaseless and without formal entry. Instead of producing resolutions, their scorings create addictions. To u ... More

Keywords: performance, performance complex, ratings, rankings, competition, competitions, performance society

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2020 Print ISBN-13: 9780198861669
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2020 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198861669.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David Stark, editor
Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology and Director, Center on Organizational Innovation, Columbia University

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Part I Performance as Competition, Competitions as Performances

Part II Rating Performances: Where Do I Stand in the Rankings?

5 Formalized Evaluation

Wendy Espeland

6 What’s Observed in a Rating?

Elena Esposito and David Stark

8 Weathering Winner-Take-All

Olav Velthuis and Niels van Doorn

Part III Performances of Value in Everyday Life

12 Performing Numbers

Robert Prey

End Matter