Standardization as Spaces of Diversity

Allison Marie Loconto, David Demortain


Standards have become an important object of investigation in social science and STS scholars have called for a more systematic program of research to study standards or standardization (Busch 2011; Timmermans and Epstein 2010). In this considering concepts paper, we engage with their program for a sociology of standards and propose a new way to think about standards and standardization as “spaces of diversity” so as to push our thinking forward about how standards, standardization and innovation processes are linked. We consider standardization as the dynamic interaction in three spaces (standards in the making, standards in action, and standards in circulation) where diversity reemerges only to be tentatively reduced or limited through new rounds of standard setting. We illustrate how diversity is an integral part of standardization with the example of the Rainforest Alliance standard for tea production as it circulated from Costa Rica to Kenya, where it was made and put into action and then circulated again to other African, Asian, and Latin American countries. We end with a proposition for future research on standards to address these other spaces of standards as loci of standardization and innovation.


standards; standardization;tea production; Rainforest Alliance; UTZ certified

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Copyright (c) 2017 Allison Marie Loconto, David Demortain

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