Ratings, defined as measuring and signaling the quality of something or someone, have existed for well over 100 years. The social science literature generally acknowledges credit rating agencies as one of the earliest formal rating systems. However, historians note that commodities have been inspected, measured, and graded for quality and purity for far longer (although some of the grading regimes were closer to certifications than ratings). Today, it is hard to think of a person, company, or industry that is not subject to some sort of rating regime. There are ratings on the safety of cars, the cleanliness or culinary merits of restaurants, the appropriateness of movies for specific audiences, the quality of universities, people’s creditworthiness, and the environmental friendliness of hotels. This entry discusses ...

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