Inequality within omnivorous knowledge: Distribution of Jeopardy! geography questions, 1984-2020
Inequalities in the availability, quality, quantity and perceived importance of knowledge are important axes of stratification. This article uses the popular trivia game show Jeopardy! as a case study to reveal how knowledge institutions can reflect and reinforce information inequalities. Using a database of 40,153 geography-related questions from Jeopardy! episodes from 1984-2020, this article maps and analyzes international inequalities in the quality, quantity and complexity of questions
... ciated with different countries. High-income countries from regions closer to the United States are relatively prominent on Jeopardy!. Results reveal both between and within-region inequality, as even within less-prominent regions, representation is disproportionately concentrated in a small number of countries. Although underrepresented, more obscure countries and regions tend to be used in more difficult and higher-stakes questions, as constructing easy questions about places with little information is challenging. Geographic knowledge was fairly static over time; characteristics of countries selected for Jeopardy! questions exhibited little change over the 38-year database, despite historical changes occurring throughout the world over the time period. Unique hierarchies in the importance and value of knowledge exist within the omnivorous, highbrow institution of Jeopardy!, which strategically includes knowledge from broader societal corpuses from around the world. Textual analyses can reveal strengths, blind-spots and biases in the knowledge bases of knowledge institutions.