From newspaper supplement to data company: Tracking rhetorical change in the Times Higher Education's rankings coverage

Morten Hansen*, Astrid Van den Bossche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
252 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Despite their importance, little is known about the companies behind global university rankings and how they have legitimized the use of league tables as structuring devices in the higher education sector. Taking a computational approach to Burke's dramatistic pentad, we analyse a corpus of 3,296 articles printed between 1994 and 2020 in the Times Higher Education magazine, publisher of the World University Rankings. We show how coverage of the rankings is subject to shifts in rhetorical strategy as Times Higher Education has developed into a ranking powerhouse. Over time, the magazine has spectacularized higher education by making changes in the rankings newsworthy, and has thereby cemented the company's position as an arbiter, reporter, and consultant in the sector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101637
JournalPOETICS
Volume92
Early online date16 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Computational hermeneutics
  • Ratio
  • Rhetoric
  • Times Higher Education
  • University rankings

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