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12/09/2017 A Sociology of Quantification* | European Journal of Sociology / Archives Europennes de Sociologie | Cambridge Core

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European Journal of Sociology / Archives Europennes


deSociologie

Volume 49, Issue 3


December 2008 , pp. 401-436

A Sociology of Quantication*
Wendy Nelson Espeland (a1) and Mitchell L. Stevens (a2)
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003975609000150
Published online: 01 December 2008

Abstract
One of the most notable political developments of the last thirty years has been increasing public and
governmental demand for the quantification of social phenomena, yet sociologists generally have paid little
attention to the spread of quantification or the significance of new regimes of measurement. Our article addresses
this oversight by analyzing quantification the production and communication of numbers as a general
sociological phenomenon. Drawing on scholarship across the social sciences in Europe and North America as well
as humanistic inquiry, we articulate five sociological dimensions of quantification and call for an ethics of
numbers.

Rsum
Une des plus notables nouveauts politiques des trente dernires annes a t l'augmentation de la demande de
quantification des phnomnes sociaux de la part tant du public que des gouvernements. Les sociologues n'y ont
gure vu un phnomne social gnral. En s'appuyant sur les acquis des sciences sociales tant amricains
qu'europens et aussi sur la recherche dans les humanits, l'article dgage cinq aspects de la quantification : le
travail de base requis, la ractivit, le pouvoir normatif, l'autorit multiusages qu'elle dgage et enfin la puissance
dans l'ordre esthtique.

Zusammenfassung
Eine der bedeutendsten politischen Neuerungen der letzten 30 Jahre ist die steigende Nachfrage nach der
Quantifizierung sozialer Bewegungen und dies sowohl von seiten der ffentlichkeit als auch der Regierungen. Die
Soziologen haben dies nicht als allgemeines soziales Phnomen betrachtet. Aufbauend auf den Erfahrungen der

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12/09/2017 A Sociology of Quantification* | European Journal of Sociology / Archives Europennes de Sociologie | Cambridge Core

amerikanischen und europischen Sozial- und Humanwissenschaften, zeigt der Aufsatz fnf Aspekte der
Quantifizierung: Arbeitsaufwand, Reaktivitt, normative Macht, Mehrzweck-Autoritt und die Macht der Esthetik.

Copyright
COPYRIGHT: A.E.S. 2008

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