The Social Sciences of Quantification: From Politics of Large Numbers to Target-Driven Policies (Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning)

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9783319439990: The Social Sciences of Quantification: From Politics of Large Numbers to Target-Driven Policies (Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning)

This book details how quantification can serve both as evidence and as an instrument of government, whether when dealing with statistics on employment, occupational health and economic governance, or when developing public management or target-driven policies. In the process, it presents a thought-provoking homage to Alain Desrosières, who pioneered ways to study large numbers and the politics underlying them.
It opens with a summary of Desrosières's contributions to the field in which several generations of researchers detail how this statistician and historian profoundly influenced them. This tribute, based on personal testimonies, bears witness to the vitality of the school of thought and analytical framework Desrosières initiated. Next, a collection of essays explores the statistical argument in the neoliberal era, examining issues such as counting the homeless in Europe, measuring the performance of public services, and quantifying the effects of public action on the unemployed in France.
The third part details the uses of quantification. It reveals that although statistics are frequently used to the advantage of those in power, they can also play a vital role in challenging and resisting both the conventions underlying the measurements as well as the measurements themselves.Featuring the work of economists, historians, political scientists, sociologists, and statisticians, this title provides readers with a thoughtful look at an influential figure in the history of statistics. It also shows how statistics are used to direct public policy, the degree of conflict that is possible in their production, and the disputes that can develop around their uses.

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About the Author:

Dr. Isabelle Bruno has an M.A. in Sociology of International Relations (2001) and Ph.D. in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris (2006). She is an associate professor at the University Lille 2 (France), where she is a member of the Lille Centre for European Research on Administration, Politics and Society (CERAPS, CNRS/Lille 2). Her first book, entitled À vos marques, prêts... cherchez! La stratégie européenne de Lisbonne, vers un marché de la recherche, was published in 2008. With E.Didier, she recently published Benchmarking. L’État sous pression statistique (Zones/La Découverte, 2013) and they edited with T. Vitale Statactivism: Statistics and Activism in the open sociopolitical studies journal Participazione e conflitto (vol. 7, #2, 2014).

Florence Jany-Catrice is a professor of economics at the University of Lille. She is the director of La Revue Française de Socio-économie (Découverte and Cairn). Her research mainly focuses on economy of quality, particularly in the field of the service economy; quality of labor and employment; as well as quality of output, wealth and their measures. She has published numerous articles and books, including The New Indicators of Well-Being and Development (Palgrave McMillan) 2006, and with J. Gadrey; Les services à la personne (2009, with FX. Devetter and T. Ribault) (La Découverte). Her lastest book is entitled La performance totale: nouvel esprit du capitalisme? (2012, Presses universitaires du Septentrion). She has also directed a special issue of the Revue Française de Socio-Economie (2010), Les politiques de quantification. 

Béatrice Touchelay is professor of economic and social contemporary history at the University of Lille Nord de France (Lille 3). She is a specialist in history of public (statistics) and private data (accounting) seen as part of the "dialogue" between state and private actors. She has recently published L’Etat et l’entreprise. Une histoire de la normalization comptable et fiscal à la française, Rennes, PUR, 2011 and as articles "Éditorial. La statistique publique, des chiffres sans histoire ?", Revue Française de Socio-Économie 2/2013(n° 12), p. 5---14. URL : www.cairn.info/revue---francaise-de-socio-economie-2013-2-page-5.htm; With Isabelle Chambost, "L’information économique des salaries et de leurs représentants, histoire d’un enjeu de société. Introduction", Economie et société, série Entreprises et finance, KF, n°3, 8/2013/p. 1219-1224.

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