Engines of Anxiety (Paperback)

Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability

By Wendy Nelson Espeland, Michael Sauder, Wendy Espeland

Russell Sage Foundation, 9780871544278, 240pp.

Publication Date: May 9, 2016

List Price: 35.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


About the Author

WENDY NELSON ESPELAND is professor of sociology at Northwestern University. MICHAEL SAUDER is associate professor of sociology at the University of Iowa.


Praise For Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability

Engines of Anxiety is essential reading for anyone involved in legal education or considering a career in law.  In this meticulously researched book, Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder show how media rankings  have  profound  and  harmful  effects  on  how  administrators  admit  students,  deans  allocate  resources, and employers select applicants. The book’s powerful take-away is that, if law school was once  an  equalizer,  offering  a  gateway  to  career  opportunities  and  social  advancement  for  people  of  modest means, today it serves to entrench the wealth inequality and status hierarchy that permeate American society.”

—Tanina Rostain, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center



“This splendid book unmasks the power of ostensibly objective rankings, showing how metrics create social  hierarchies.  Even  though  our  collective  enthusiasm  for  rankings  seems  closely  tethered  to  America’s populist yearnings, scholars and consumers alike will be staggered at Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder’s superb analysis of  how profoundly transformative these metrics have become.”

—Walter W. Powell, Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology, Organizational Behavior,Management Science and Engineering, Communication, and Public Policy, Stanford University



Engines of Anxiety is one of these rare books that will profoundly reshape how we think of contemporary higher education and organizational life more generally. Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder provide a magisterial demonstration of how the quantification of performance is revolutionizing our world on so many dimensions. Their book is a ‘must-read’ for anyone concerned with some of the most important questions we face in our hyper-competitive world, namely: what is success, how can we achieve it, and how can we insure that multiple forms of excellence continue to flourish side by side.”

Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies, Professor of Sociology and African and African-American Studies, Harvard University