Keep Diversity––Make Standards! Spaces of Standardization for Diversity Analyzed through Cattle Breeding Industry

Lidia Chavinskaia, Allison Marie Loconto


Standardization as spaces of diversity was introduced by Loconto and Demortain (2017) to advance the sociology of standards. Their analytical framework for studying standardization processes in interactive spaces is mobilized and expanded upon in this article in order to address the problematic relationship between standards and diversity. Studying industrialized animals highlights the existing tensions between these opposing forces and the socio-technical attempts to reconcile them. Using a socio-historical approach, we analyze cattle breeding standards as they pass through three interactive spaces of standards: “standards in the making,” “standards in action,” and “standards in circulation.” Drawing from the notion of ecology, we highlight the need for contextualization in order to better understand processes of standardization in a fourth space of “standards in interaction.” The contours of this space are demonstrated through an analysis of the International Bull Evaluation Service (Interbull), which is a space of commensuration for cattle breeding values. Linear interpretations of standardization processes are thus challenged with an empirical demonstration of how standardization can be harnessed to preserve and even enhance diversity.


standards; standardization; diversity; commensuration; cattle breeding; genetics

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