Valuation ruptures: breaking and remaking notions of 'good' in a US government agency

Ana Carolina Macatangay*, Philip John Roscoe

*Corresponding author for this work

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    The flourishing literature of valuation studies has shown how values are enacted and temporarily settled through sociomaterial processes, highlighting the contestations and dissonances inherent in valuing. We extend this concern through a study of a sudden collapse and reconstruction of value – what counts as good – in a US government agency. Using ethnographic case study methods, we explore how the U.S. child support enforcement program’s performance measures breached a state agency’s operational framework and disrupted its understanding of good performance. Following the traces left behind by the measures, we demonstrate how actors and devices formed new networks of value, transforming the agency from one of the worst to one of the most outstanding performers in the nation. At the same time, new and unexpected notions of ‘good’ emerge. We transpose the notion of rupture from micro-sociological theory to show the collective efforts involved in making a sudden disruption and realignment of values.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Sociological Review
    Early online date3 Mar 2022
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2022


    • Valuation
    • Performativity
    • Reactivity
    • Disruption
    • Micro-sociology
    • Rupture
    • Child support
    • Performance measures


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