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The New Politics of Numbers – Utopia, Evidence and Democracy

Andreas Mennicken & Robert Salais (eds.)(2022)

Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Open access.

About the book. This open access book offers unique insight into how and where ideas and instruments of quantification have been adopted, and how they have come to matter. Rather than asking what quantification is, New Politics of Numbers explores what quantification does, its manifold consequences in multiple domains. It scrutinizes the power of numbers in terms of the changing relations between numbers and democracy, the politics of evidence, and dreams and schemes of bettering society. The book engages Foucault inspired studies of quantification and the economics of convention in a critical dialogue. In so doing, it provides a rich account of the plurality of possible ways in which numbers have come to govern, highlighting not only their disciplinary effects, but also the collective mobilization capacities quantification can offer. This book will be invaluable reading for academics and graduate students in a wide variety of disciplines, as well as policymakers interested in the opportunities and pitfalls of governance by numbers.”


  • The New Politics of Numbers: An Introduction (Andrea Mennicken and Robert Salais)
  • Creating a Socialist Society and Quantification in the USSR (Martine Mespoulet)
  • The People’s Algorithms: Social Credits and the Rise of China’s Big (Br)other (Tong Lam)
  • Accounting for Who We Are and Could Be: Inventing Taxonomies of the Self in an Age of Uncertainty (Uwe Vormbusch)
  • Quantifying Inequality: From Contentious Politics to the Dream of an Indifferent Power (Ota De Leonardis)
  • Homo Statisticus: A History of France’s General Public Statistical Infrastructure on Population Since 1950 (Thomas Amossé)
  • A New Calculable Global World in the Making: Governing Through Transnational Certification Standards (Laurent Thévenot)
  • Do Performance Indicators Improve the Effectiveness of Development Aid? (Ousmane Oumarou Sidibé)
  • Archaeology of a Quantification Device: Quantification, Policies and Politics in French Higher Education (Corine Eyraud)
  • Quantification = Economization? Numbers, Ratings and Rankings in the Prison Service of England and Wales (Andrei Guter-Sandu and Andrea Mennicken)
  • The Shifting Legitimacies of Price Measurements: Official Statistics and the Quantification of Pwofitasyon in the 2009 Social Struggle in Guadeloupe (Boris Samuel)
  • “La donnée n’est pas un donné”: Statistics, Quantification and Democratic Choice (Robert Salais)
  • Free from Numbers? The Politics of Qualitative Sociology in the U.S. Since 1945 (Emmanuel Didier)
  • Afterword: Quantifying, Mediating and Intervening: The R Number and the Politics of Health in the Twenty-First Century (Peter Miller)

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