Quantitative Marbling. New Conceptual Tools for the Socio-history of Quantification

Emmanuel Didier (2021)

Anton Wilhelm Amo Lectures no 7, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Press

Abstract. Socio-history of quantification is not a simple sub-domain of Science and Technology Studies. On the contrary, it can provide tools for investigating a wide range of social situations from a new and interesting perspective. We begin by providing a new definition of quantification. Next we consider the way numbers permeate society to its very core, forming rich veins of data for social science research. From this process, referred to here as “quantitative marbling,” three distinct categories emerge: data veins produced by governments, those produced by social activists (often contesting the former), and lastly, those produced by non-governmental global networks. We conclude by suggesting that social processes aiming to free certain social aggregates of quantitative analysis are also worthy of attention.

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