Creating a governable reality: analysing the use of quantification in shaping Australian wheat marketing policy

Patrick O’Keeffe (2018)

Agrarian and Human Values, 35(3), pp. 553–567

Abstract. This paper analyses Australian policy makers’ use of quantification and technologies of government to implement the project of Australian wheat export market liberalisation. I draw upon policy documents to analyse how quantification has been used to construct a simplified, governable conception of the wheat industry. Policy makers, I suggest, acted upon this constructed reality through assemblages of technologies such as performance objectives, audit, cost-benefit analysis and econometric modelling to facilitate wheat export market deregulation. In addition, this paper shows how quantification was used to delegitimise the social consequences of deregulation and marginalise farmers’ opposition to this shift. Thus, the erasure of the social world enabled policy makers to construct economic objectives such as efficiency and productivity as serving the national interest.

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