The Evaluation Society

The Evaluation Society

Peter Dahler-Larsen

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780804776929

Publisher: Stanford University Press


Evaluation—whether called by this name, quality assurance, audit, accreditation, or others—is an important social activity. Any public or private organization that “lives in public” must now evaluate its activities, be evaluated by others, or evaluate others. What are the origins of this wave of evaluation? And, what worthwhile results emerge from it? This book argues that if we want to understand many of the norms, values, and expectations that we, sometimes unknowingly, bring to evaluation, we should explore how evaluation is demanded, formatted, and shaped by the two great principles of social order: “organization” and “society.” With this understanding, we can more conscientiously participate in evaluation processes; better position ourselves to understand many of the mysteries, tensions, and paradoxes in evaluation; and most effectively use evaluation. After exploring the sociology and organization of evaluation in this landmark work, the book concludes by discussing issues that are critical for the future of evaluation—as a discipline and a societal norm.