In the modern world there is no shortage of people who know what is best for others. Self-appointed experts, consultants, and organizations try to convince states, corporations, and individuals that they would be better off if they only followed some specific rules about what to do. These rules are presented as being voluntary and advisory. They are standards, not mandatory directives, and in modern life standards abound.
Standards may concern what characteristics a telephone should have, how a company should report its financial transactions, how organizations should be managed, how states should treat their citizens, how children should be raised, and so forth. Even organizations as powerful as states and large corporations follow standards on how to organize, which policies to pursue, what kinds of services to provide, or how their products should be designed.
Standards enable a higher degree of global order in the modern world than would exist without them. They facilitate coordination and cooperation even among people and organizations that are far apart. The authors believe that standardization is a much neglected area of social science — an area that has by no means received the attention it deserves in view of its importance to society. This book seeks to redress the balance by providing an in-depth examination of a number of aspects of standardization, how it is formed, and what effects it has on the world in which we live.